- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 www.dankimball.com.
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 (www.marshillchurch.org), 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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Top Customer Reviews
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. However, rather than finding specific theological beliefs, what the reader finds is theological beliefs from all sorts of different Christian traditions (liberal protestant, post-evangelical emergent, Calvinistic conservative, etc) tied together by a sense of urgency and purpose.
There are specific ideas about favorite theological "picking points" in the book. Scripture's role, the Trinity, and substitutionary atonement are all addressed. It would be remiss, however, for someone to claim that this book clears up how the Emerging Church sees these issues as a whole. It appears that the Emerging Church has beliefs, but they are far from homogenized as of yet.
Instead, what the reader finds is a clearer understanding of how they might fit into what this "Emerging Church" looks like. Five of the Emerging Church's most popular pastors seek to show not only the unity that they feel in being "emerging" but in the diversity that they express through their different takes on things from Baptism to ideas about physics.
It's a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who is far enough along in their research to know at least a few of the names in the book. If you don't know who Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, and Doug Pagitt are - you should spend a little more time getting to know the movement before you read this book.
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. His prescription is to invite people to come as they are, recognizing it might take a while for changes in people to take place.
Dan Kimball says the problem is that we're still stuck with those dispensational end-time charts, and scared that someone is going to ask a question to which we don't know the answer. His prescription is to create a worshipping community of missional theologians, people who are well-versed in the study of the nature of God, and inquiring into religious questions.
Doug Pagitt says the problem is any number of assumptions about the way we do theology, an unwillingness to address new questions raised by scientific advances, and an unwillingness to think about the increasing rate of cultural change. His prescription is to challenge these assumptions and address new cultural realities.
Karen Ward says the problem is the modern pastor-as-CEO model. Her prescription is an apprentice model of discipleship, distributing as much of the mentoring as possible. Her prescription also involves a metaphor of theology as the cooking of tasty, nutritious food, as opposed to the metaphor of theology as architecture.
Robert Webber provides a helpful summary of the contributions in his conclusion section. In my opinion, Webber's Appendix 2, "What is the Ancient-Future Vision?" and Appendix 3, "A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future" should have been placed immediately after the conclusion section, because Webber just wasn't finished commenting. It is unfortunate that some readers of this book won't read these parts because of where they are placed.
I considered my complaints about the placement of names on the cover, and the placements of the appendices to be insufficient to take the fifth star away from a revealing book about American evangelical Christians in the early 21st century.
Full Disclosure: I attend Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Doug Pagitt, one of the contributors, is my pastor.