If I have learned anything over the years in my academic pursuits it’s this:
Getting the “pieces” of theology right, as much as we can in our finiteness, matters because when we get one of those pieces “wrong,” the rest fall in lockstep.
Of late, my generation is all a flutter with reimagining the Christian faith—reimagining the pieces of the Christian faith. I understand this pull toward reimagining the Christian faith, because I have been there myself. But what I have learned as I have journeyed into, through, and beyond the Emergent Church is that
what my generation needs is not to reimagine the Christian faith, but rediscover it.
We need to rediscover what and how the Church of Jesus Christ has always believed about our problem, solution, and the One who bore that solution. We need to rediscover the gospel.
To be frank, that rediscovery effort is not going to come through the Emergent Church. It is clear their reimagination enterprise is simply one iteration in a long line of Protestant liberal leavers—Emergents have left the historic Christian faith in the same way liberals have every generation since Schleiermacher, yet in a way that’s palatable for our postmodern, post-Christian day.
Which, for this post-Emergent who had high hopes of a genuine third way that cuts through the malaise of contemporary liberal-conservative theologic discourse, is sad indeed.
This is personal because I myself was involved with and hoodwinked by the Emergent Church. And it’s personal because I myself still long for a third way. I realize this term is over used, yet as I survey our current evangelical landscape that is split between progressive Emergent evangelicals on the one side and traditional Young Calvinist evangelicals on the other, I’m left wanting.
I—and my gut tells me plenty more people—want an alternative that cuts through the current evangelical malaise and recaptures the gospel in all of its grandeur and majesty and revolutionary character—a gospel that includes the Kingdom in all of its already-not-yet glory in order to provide new life right now and is still exclusively tied to the only one true God, Jesus Christ.
Now more than ever the Church is in need of passionate ambassadors of Christ who take seriously their calling as ministers of reconciliation, in the fullest sense of that Kingdom calling. Yet, I hope that a new generation of Christians will rediscover what the Church has always believed regarding God’s magical, revolutionary Story of Rescue in order to bring the type of right-now transformation for which our world longs—without reimagining the Kingdom for, and consequently the gospel, along the way.
What the Church—and even the world—does not need now is a new kind of Christianity for our multi-faith world.
What the Church needs is the old, old gospel Story of Jesus and His radical, furious love.
Which is why I have dedicated my work, my art, my life, to proclaiming, living, breathing that Story. For God’s glory and the common good.