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Church in the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What's Emerging (ēmersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith) Paperback – February 1, 2011
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From the Back Cover
Provocative Perspectives on Emerging Conversations
"This is the most complete, detailed, critically sympathetic, and totally remarkable overview I have yet seen of where Emergence Christianity presently is and appears to be going. McKnight's two essays alone are worth the price of admission."--Phyllis Tickle, author, The Great Emergence
"At root, the emerging church movement is a set of conversations about living more faithfully into the way of Jesus and the implications of this for the life and witness of Christian communities. This book offers a series of reflections from some of the best-known voices on a range of important questions. These essays extend the conversation in significant ways and make it clear that the questions stirred up are worth pursuing."--John R. Franke, Biblical Seminary; theologian in residence, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown
"Over its short history, the emerging church has both challenged and inspired the practice of church in our time. Church in the Present Tense brings together in one volume some of its finest thinkers to reflect on the theological and practical contributions of this movement. In concise and helpful essays, they lead us through the impact of 'emerging' on our views of God, salvation, Scripture, the end times, and the practice of worship. Whatever you might think of the movement, you cannot ignore its impact, and this volume won't let you!"--David Fitch, Northern Seminary; author, The End of Evangelicalism?
"Rather than retreading old ground, Church in the Present Tense looks at the still-evolving emerging church movement from new angles, and readers will be rewarded with new insights. We are in very good hands with Scot, Pete, Kevin, and Jason--they appreciate the movement, but they aren't playing Pollyanna. They're tough, smart, articulate interlocutors. I think this book will be seen as among the best interactions with the emerging church movement."--Tony Jones, theologian in residence, Solomon's Porch, Minneapolis; author, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
About the Author
Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham) is Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and the author of more than twenty books, including A Community Called Atonement. Peter Rollins (PhD, Queen's University, Belfast) is founder of Ikon, an emerging collective in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is the author of several books, including How (Not) to Speak of God: Marks of the Emerging Church. Kevin Corcoran (PhD, Purdue University) is professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and author of Rethinking Human Nature. Jason Clark (PhD candidate, King's College, London) coordinates the Emergent UK online resource network, is founding/senior pastor of Vineyard Church Sutton in Sutton, England, and is adjunct professor at Portland Seminary.
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I do want to read "Church in the Present Tense." I begin a course of study in September and Dr. Jason Clark is one of the instructors. I would like to read some of his writing. The Kindle version, however, lacks an index with chapter/essay links. This requires scrolling through essays to find the one you want and in addition, you cannot really see the organization of essays from a topical perspective. I only read a small portion of the book in order to make sure I could return it for credit. When you buy the Kindle version, you must also sacrifice the 60 min DVD that accompanies the print version.
No chapter headings...How absurd!
The Church in both the sense of theological content and methods of communications. Scot McKnight writes two chapters in the final section of the book. Since I have not read the whole book, I will only comment on the final chapter.
What it boils down to is this: the Evangelical church of the last 50 years (more or less) has focused on a clear, logical exposition of what is called the "plan of salvation." This includes concepts such as atonement and propitiation for sins. The thinking has been that new converts need to understand cognitively how salvation works in order to believe and receive it logically.
The postmodern churches and fellowships that are popping up among 20-something young adults (otherwise often referred to as "emerging" churches - but not always) tend to play down the emphasis on such legal or forensic concepts as atonement and propitiation (in other words, the legal substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf in order to grant forgiveness) in favor of telling a story of Jesus as the liberator or Jesus the messiah bringing social justice and reconciliation to the earth.
Before you react, give McKnight a good reading. He is very balanced, and he clearly affirms that he does believe in the substitutionary death of Christ. However, he balances the scale with a careful critique of the Evangelical tendency to replace "the Gospel of the Kingdom" with the "Plan of Salvation" and equate the two ... nevertheless, McKnight demonstrates that no where in the New Testament do we see Paul or Peter actually preaching a sermon based on the so-called Plan of Salvation. Instead, they told the story of the Messiah and the good news of his kingdom and most often connected that story with Israel's history.
Sorry to belabor the point, but this is very important if we are going to be attempting to lead 20-something millennials to faith in Christ. We need to rethink and re-theologize our message for this current culture (I know many will disagree with me).
Based on the 3 chapters I have read, this is an excellent and balanced introduction to many of these philosophical and theological issues that will continue to grow around us in the coming years.
He continues, “Postmodernism… is both a CULTURAL phenomenon and a PHILOSOPHICAL movement… philosophical postmodernism involves… calling into question ‘metanarratives,’ or grand stories of the world and our place in it. The Christian story is one such narrative. Atheistic naturalism is another… What gets called into question … is our ability to float free of the grand narratives we find ourselves in and to view things from a ‘God’s eye view.’ … This, I suggest, leads those in the movement to emphatically promote tolerance and enthusiastically participate in dialogue---religious, political, and otherwise. Second, emerging Christians tend to be theologically pluralistic and suspicious of tidy theological boxes… Third, emerging Christians believe the church must change if it is to speak meaningfully to a postmodern culture… Fourth, participants in the emerging and altworship movements are passionate about the present. The gospel, they want us to Realize, is about the here and now, and not a ticket to secure a place in the there and then of heaven.” (Pg. xiii-xiv)
He explains, “COMMUNITY: Emerging Christians place a premium on community, on living life together in all its messiness. However, community can take many shapes, and emerging or altworship communities often do not resemble tradition church community with a paid staff and centralized leadership… TRANSFORMATION: Emerging types are passionate about transformation, both personal and structural. They tend not to view themselves as finished products, as ‘saved’ or even as ‘Christian.’ Instead, they speak of themselves as ‘BEING saved’ and ‘BECOMING Christian.’ … WORSHIP: Emerging Christians are innovative and imaginative in the aesthetics of worship, and they are technologically savvy. They’re sacramental and incarnational… SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT: Emerging Christians enthusiastically endorse Jesus’s claim that ‘by their fruits you will know them.’ Thus, they seek to be the active agents of God’s reconciling, redemptive, and restorative agenda in and for the world. They are thus politically and socially engaged.” (Pg. xv-xvi)
Besides Corcoran, the other contributors are Peter Rollins, Jason Clark, and Scot McKnght. The essays are grouped into Philosophy; Theology; Worship; and Bible and Doctrine.
In his essay, “The Kingdom of God (on Earth),” Corcoran says, “the kingdom has not yet been fully consummated. It is still a kingdom ON ITS WAY, even if it is also, and at the same time, a kingdom ALREADY COME… there is actually ample evidence of its present reality… Wherever you find people healing one another’s wounds, praying and working for justice and peace, railing against justice and oppression, wherever you discover broken lives made whole and redeemed, there you are witness to the present reality of God’s kingdom.” (Pg. 65)
He poses the question, “Are emerging Christians religious pluralists?... Many of the emerging Christians I know believe that devout and sincere practitioners of religious traditions other than Christianity have genuine EXPERIENCES of God, that God has not limited God’s self-disclosure to Christians. But, again, this is not to deny that God was UNIQUELY present in Jesus and that salvation comes through Christ alone… I should hasten to point out that one might be … an inclusivist or universalist with respect to whom that salvation and reconciliation ultimately applies. And, in fact, many in the emerging conversation find what I like to call ‘christocentric universalism’---the belief that eventually ALL human beings are reconciled to God in Christ—extremely attractive. Some, sadly, may first need to experience the torments of hell, but eventually love will win, God will win, and ALL will be saved.” (Pg. 68-69)
This is an excellent volume, that will be of great value to anyone studying the Emerging Church, or similar movements in contemporary Christianity.
Includes a DVD with interviews, observations, and...a RANT AGAINST COCA COLA!?