It has become the trend in the current generation to try and find new dimensions or “costumes” for the faith to wear. Generally speaking, the emergent church ideology encourages a kind of “Post reactivity”.
The emergent church doesn’t claim a particular denomination, but it generally holds to a post-modern worldview. The mentality that many individuals in society hold today is one of equality and social justice. Christianity itself has always been a viral movement not connected with any particular element other then Jesus. Even it’s roots in Judaism have failed to define Christianity at a core level. Core tenants of Christianity are dogma, but there are subordinate categories of belief that allow more freedom for Christians to take. There is simply room for differences of interpretation on Scripture, as rightly apart of a hermeneutical approach to an ancient Biblical cannon.
While basically all of the authors of the 66 books of the Bible were written by Jews (the jury is still out on Hebrews), The contextual post-Christ books in the New Testament makes for a very Kingdom-of-God-centric message, rather then a Jewish one. While this is so, Christian church tradition has always held to some key components that hold it stable, they are:
- All have sinned (Rom. 3:10, 23; Is. 64:6a)
- Jesus was(and is) both son of God, and son of man (Jn. 1:1, 14; 10:30; Col. 2:9)
- Jesus died and rose again (1st Thess. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:4)
- Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6)
- Jesus is coming back (Matt. 24:43-44; Jn. 14:3; Rev. 22:12)
Others may be quoted, but the basic assessment is that Christianity is about Christ. There is an upheld commitment to the Judeo-Christian Biblical Cannon that was agreed upon and officially sealed by the 3rd Council of Synod in 397 BC, but there is ironically no exact date, or unanimously agreed upon council to link it’s authentication to. It happened over a long period of time, and the council members voted based of principles of authenticity to eye-witness accounts of Jesus. An overlap of authentication gave later council members an easier time of closing the Biblical cannon.
But this is not to say there were not heresies that the church had to address, and certainly the church made some mistakes later on. In fact, for an incredible 1,000 years or so, the church was in a very dark and deplorable place. The church, around the same time the cannon was officially closed, went into what is infamously known as “the dark ages”. Perhaps one of the reason for this was because the Bible was actually translated into Latin. Those who didn’t know Latin were told to simply “trust” the clergy for a proper interpretation. It wasn’t until Wycliffe that this changed, and even then – it was a direct translation, rather then a translation of the originally authored Scriptures.
But one of the things that the church learned to adopt is a “quadrilateral of interpretation”, as Scripture alone was written by men. The name of this hermeneutical tool is credited to a man by the name of John Wesley, and has been dubbed, “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral”. These are the four proposed “legs” of Christianity:
- Scripture – Commonly called the Word of God, these words go all the way back to the beginning of God’s of the earth.
- Tradition – This is the actual track record of Christianity. What has happened thus far in the earthly bride of Christ. The same Holy Spirit has lived hearts since Acts 2.
- Reason – Being created in God’s image, we recognize God may speak to our hearts internally, as well as connect with us as we form worldviews and make practical application in life.
- Experience – This is really the “depth” of a Christian’s relationship with God. We follow Christ because of what we have “seen and heard”. It becomes personal, and we can testify of a personal experience in our own life.
Christianity has always transcend religiously social designations, but the world consistently tries to categorize it in a sociological way. Christianity is not just a religion, but it looks like one on the outside. It isn’t just one set of linear black-and-white beliefs, but certain core beliefs must be maintained. It is run by any overarching council or organization, although the church as sought to give it a hierarchical order.
The post-modern mentality has breached the sphere of the Christian church, and the “Emergent Church” is the result. It isn’t obvious on the surface, because worldviews aren’t obvious on the surface, but we recognize a distinct shift in the style and doctrine of the emergent church movement. It is much like the very concept of post-modernism in general, where a reaction to modernism was proposed. There have been major shifts in the church that can be charted and analyzed, but the emergent church goes beyond the previous shifts to question the original, core Christian dogma tenants. Proponents would coin terms like “post-evangelicalism”, or even “post-Christian”. While I am of a generation that tends to inquiry the origin of several doctrines, I don’t attempt to over throw the very foundations, especially when so many beneficial things (aside from those not-so-beneficial) things have resulted from them. Christianity has been a source of numerous pure foundations in society today, including hospitals, universities, and horticulture.
Christianity has to be an all-or-nothing thing, at least at the basic dogma level. Where there may be major doctrinal differences, even to the point of shifting into three major branches of:
- Roman Catholic,
- Eastern Orthodox
If it is to go, everything it has every helped to produce in the history of this world would have to be denounced right along with it. Heresies have rightly been denounced by the upper-echelon ecumenical councils, and by local neighborhood churches by the direction of the same Holy Spirit that breathed the first words of life through Jesus in the first days of His Spirit-filled ministry. There is just no room for truth and deception to dwell together, unlike the freedom of differences in doctrine is sanctioned under the same Lordship of Christ. When core components are questioned, poison is sure to follow. People, who are an essential part of what the body of Christ is on earth, accept the tradition of those who have gone before them, and much has been done to restore the “first moments” of the movement to our 21st century lives. But where the lessons and cautioning of those who have been filled with the same Spirit that has been claimed to have filled us no longer have any merit, therein lies red flags.
I guess my bottom line here it to question what it is to “be postal”. Before I will submit to a worldview like post-modernism, I want to know what I am becoming a protagonist to. I acknowledge my roots as a protestant Christian, and I have come to realize I intentionally align with the views of key protestant figures like Martin Luther. But where the contemporary trend is to follow in the waves others have made, I how to question to rationality of that.