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The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier [Paperback]

Tony Jones
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 20, 2009 047045539X 978-0470455395 1
What the "Emergent Church Movement" is all about-and why it matters to the future of Christianity

Following on the questions raised by Brian McLaren in A New Kind of Christian, Tony Jones has written an engaging exploration of what this new kind of Christianity looks like. Writing "dispatches" about the thinking and practices of adventurous Emergent Christians across the country, he offers an in-depth view of this new "third way" of faith-its origins, its theology, and its views of truth, scripture and interpretation, and the Emergent movement's hopeful and life-giving sense of community. With the depth of theological expertise and broad perspective he has gained as a pastor, writer, and leader of the movement, Jones initiates readers into the Emergent conversation and offers a new way forward for Christians in a post-Christian world. With journalistic narrative as well as authoritative reflection, he draws upon on-site research to provide fascinating examples and firsthand stories of who is doing what, where, and why it matters.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jones (The Sacred Way) provides the single best introduction to the Emergent Church movement, of which he is a prominent leader. The mainline denominations are dying, and the hyperindividualism of evangelicalism is unsatisfying, so many young evangelicals, Jones explains, have decided to recreate church for postmodern times. Jones credits Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian with raising important questions about sounding the Gospel in an era beset by questions about foundationalism, epistemology and how to read Scripture. He passionately defends the emergent movement from criticism. In particular, critics are wrong to claim that emergents don't really believe in the Bible; emergents passionately love the Bible, says Jones, but also know that finite human beings cannot definitively articulate truth. The strongest sections put flesh on these theoretical bones by taking readers into actual emergent churches, like Jacob's Well in Kansas City, Mo., where the pastor draws on Catholic practice, engages the visual arts and sees the church's job as assisting people on their pilgrimage of faith. Jones's writing is brisk and conversational, but the book gets poor marks for design. Call-out boxes, pull quotes and frequent font changes, which might be thought to appeal to a younger audience, in fact make for distracting and disjointed reading. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This is an insider's journal of the journey called emergent Christianity, and it is the book I have been looking for. If you want to know what emergent Christianity is, buy this book, read it, talk about it and then give it to someone else." -Scot McKnight is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies North Park University

"The New Christians is instructive, inspiring, enjoyable, and a milestone in the development of this important young phenomenon." -Brian McLaren, author and speaker 

"There is indeed new life arising from the compost of Christendom. The challenge with a book like this is neither to be overcome by the smell of the poop, nor stupified by the beauty of a flower--more than anything we must see this book as an invitation to get our hands dirty, break a sweat, get messy." -Shane Claiborne, author, activist

"Lots of people have questions about just what this Emergent Church thing is all about. Tony Jones has the answer for them here. A great starting point for understanding a significant movement." -Christian Smith, author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

"This is the book to read to get the actual insiders' view of all things emergent." -Dan Kimball, author They Like Jesus but not the Church

"This intelligent and informative book is the only insider story from one of the leading lights of the more progressive wing of the emerging movement, the former national coordinator of Emergent Village." -Christianity Today (October 2009)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047045539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470455395
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Jones (M.Div., Ph.D.) is a theologian, professor, and writer. Currently, he serves as theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, and teaches in the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theologial Seminary. Tony has written ten books on Christian ministry, spirituality, prayer, and new church movements. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, kids, and dogs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Needed Perspective February 25, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In my opinion The New Christians is a needed and welcomed contribution at this stage in the emerging church conversation. This is the book to read to understand the history of this thing called emergent and the passions of those of us drawn to it. To list a few of the reasons why -

First, to be completely narcissistic, I enjoyed reading Tony's story of his journey into Emergent because it echoed so much of my own experience. I know that he has received criticism for not being inclusive enough of various forms of emerging thought in this book, but he makes it clear in the book that he is telling the story of his own experiences, the groups he has encountered, and the friends he has made. He gives snapshots of where he has encountered the conversation and summarizes the trends he is witnessing. Some people may not see themselves reflected in this book, but for those of us who have trod similar paths as Tony, it is affirming to have part of our story told. This book represents our reality - from the questions, to the conferences, to the online emphasis, to the conversations.

I also like that Tony isn't afraid to tell the truth about the messy parts of Christianity and emergent. The messy parts exist and many in this conversation have experienced pain because of them. So I appreciate Tony's willingness to say that yes Emergent has critics, yes there have been falling outs, and yes some people have refused to play ball with us. It's reality and hiding from it won't help resolve differences. And it's high time, imho, the truth was told that its not just emergents causing the problems.

I appreciated the way Tony dealt with the issues of homosexuality and women in ministry. Instead of dealing with each as "issues," he just told the stories of real people.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History & perspective February 21, 2008
This has been a fun, challenging, insightful read for me. As one who's been reading and thinking and messing people up with "emergent" dialog, Tony Jones' The New Christians (copyright 2008, Jossey-Bass Publishers) gets into the nitty gritty history and thoughts behind the movement in a way that's accessible and personal.

I found "the emergent church" folks about ten years ago, reading some of their forebears and thinking new thoughts that scared me, to be frank. I attended a couple of seminars, traveled to Maryland for one of the Off The Map conferences, and read through alot of books. I put this new work right up there with the most meaningful of my library - good for anyone looking for someone "on the same page as me", and detrimental for anyone wanting to just keep the status quo religiously.

It's into this mess of paradox, oxymorons and mystery that Jones and others have sought to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling".

What I like about Jones' prose is that he doesn't water anything down. There are problems on both sides, there are misunderstandings all over, and there's a need for forgiveness and mercy and grace from each corner. He does this with the historical potions of the story, and then does much the same with the theological discussion of truth, the Bible, interpretation, missiology. There's a flow that's working for me, like a primer on what I've been reading from my own vantage point that's developed over the same passage of years.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good book but unconvincing to me February 17, 2008
This is a well written, and passionately written, book designed to foster excitement for the Christian movement in which the author participates. I give it three stars for this, but no more because I don't find it terribly convincing. However, if you're interested in the Emergent movement, or the current state of Christianity at all, it's worth a read, there is certainly some good information and ideas in the book.

That said, reading this I rather get the impression that Mr. Jones is somewhat out of touch with reality, and takes movement he participates in much too seriously. He constantly compares himself and his fellow Emergents to adventurous pioneers battling on the fringes of philosophy and spirituality. But if you broaden your horizons a bit I think you'll find that pioneering - in a general sense - is being carried on by a great many people of all persuations. Why are the emergents the pioneers but not the Buddhists or secularists? We're all trying to figure this out, this thing we call reality. Really, what the emergent church seems to be (if there really is such a thing, since the author never does give a working definition of it) is a bunch of disillusioned people trying to reconcile their Christian faith with human experience. As such they aren't much different than the Christians who have had seriously questioned their faith throughout history. The only difference is that now they're trying to figure out how to be one in a postmodern world. Jones was not conclusive on how this can be done or if its even possible.

In fact, and unfortunately, he was not conclusive about anything at all. He writes and writes but avoids conclusions, he makes no points, or when he does, he quickly retracts them or qualifies them to the point that they are not falsifiable.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A seminal contribution April 3, 2008
Christianity has been in a state of evolution, change, flux, and internal conflict every since the very first Christians emerged out of the synagogues of Jerusalem two thousand years ago. A doctoral fellow in practical theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary, author, speaker, and seasoned observer of the American religious landscape Tony Jones has written a seminal work exploring the emergent frontier of Christianity in the opening decade of the 21st Century in "The New Christians: Dispatches From The Emergent Frontier". Providing an informed, informative, and exceptionally well written survey of the more adventurous Christian communities around the world, "The New Christians" reveals a religious movement that is not based on the usual Left-Right political, economic, social, and cultural divides that have marked previous fractions of the Christian church. Simply stated, this is a new form of Christian community that difference in both substance and ideology from such previous ecclesiastical movements that gave rise to Protestantism from Catholicism, or even earlier than that, the Catholic Churches of the West from the Orthodox Churches of the East. "The New Christians" is enthusiastically recommended reading (especially for non-specialist general readers with an interest in religion, spirituality, church history, and current trends with in today's diverse Christian communities) and a seminal contribution for academic and community library Christian Studies and Religious History reference collections.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wake Up for the Church
The Kingdom of God is coming; but whether or not the institutional Church is part of the process depends upon a quantum shift in her thinking. Read more
Published 9 months ago by PB
1.0 out of 5 stars Please consider this.
This book clearly shows the idea and thoughts of the emergent movement and if you know the Bible you will be able to discern the era of this thinking. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sharon m Ulstad
5.0 out of 5 stars To my mind - True Christianity
Coming from a traditional evangelical background where doubts are considered a lack of spiritual maturity or knowledge, Tony Jones has presented a picture of christian community... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Colin Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great History of the Emerging Church Movement
Tony Jones is the theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, MN (Doug Pagitt's church). Read more
Published on June 25, 2010 by Joshua Hopping
5.0 out of 5 stars Best info on Emergents.
If you're interested in knowing what this whole Emergent thing is about, this is the book for you. Before you say anything about emergent (Good or Bad) You should read this...
Published on January 20, 2010 by Sick Boy
4.0 out of 5 stars Right Diagnosis...Solutions Still Fuzzy
The picture that Tony Jones paints in the first half of his book of the church today is pretty solid. The church lacks unity. The church lacks theological depth. Read more
Published on July 4, 2009 by Matthew Hundley
5.0 out of 5 stars "The best primer available for the emergent movement"
If you are even interested in reading this book I guess you may be one of three people. One, you could be an "emergent" and you are just wanted to learn a little about the movement... Read more
Published on June 9, 2009 by Rawim
3.0 out of 5 stars Biased Yet Interesting
Tony Jones' book "The New Christians" is an outstanding history and overview of the Emergent Church movement. Jones is obviously a clear and compelling writer. Read more
Published on October 20, 2008 by Brian
4.0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Guide to the Emerging Church and Contemporary Christianity
Tony Jones gives a brief but well thought out account of the emergent church culture among contemporary expressions of Christianity. Read more
Published on September 11, 2008 by Daniel J. Paszak
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
This is an important read for anyone interested in the emergent conversation. The personal history of the author's journey and the concepts developed, in this journey, give this... Read more
Published on August 14, 2008 by D. Nelson
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Topic From this Discussion
The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
"The truth? You can't handle the truth!" raged Jack Nicholson in the face of Tom Cruz in the movie A Few Good Men. With this book, Tony Jones will become the foremost voice for the emergent movement in the U.S. along with his friend and mentor, Brian McLaren. Frankly, I'd follow either... Read More
Feb 3, 2008 by William Dahl |  See all 2 posts
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