Why We’re Not Emergent

While at one of my offices a few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of a book that I’d heard about before, but hadn’t read up to read. I placed it in my stack of unread books, and took care of some pressing deadlines until I had the chance to put it in my backpack, which is where all books go when I’m serious about reading them.

And when the time was right, I pulled Why We’re Not Emergent out of my backpack and began to read it. You might think it would be a little dated (published in 2008, but that’s how fast the whole emergent conversations move), but due to the enormous labor involved in research, there have been no surprises that would make this book less relevant today. The concerns regarding the emergent church raised in this book were spot on.

I found myself highlighting and starring something on each line that corresponded with something I’d read or heard or seen that had given my pause for reflection and caution, but this is not a fear-mongering book. Kevin DeYoung (one of the authors), is a young(ish) pastor who is a leading voice among young reformed evangelicals. His blog is featured on The Gospel Coalition’s website, and TheResurgence.com described him as, “a stud.” His co-author, Ted Kluck, I am less familiar with, but as referenced in the book, he typically authors books about sports and attends the church that Kevin pastors.

Kevin details the premise of the book in his introduction where he states:

You can be young, passionate about Jesus Christ, surrounded by diversity, engaged in a postmodern world, and reared in evangelicalism and not be an emergent Christian. In fact, I want to argue that it would be better if you weren’t.

From that point forward, DeYoung and Kluck tag-team back and forth as they share the primary reasons why they simply cannot join this “emerging” church.

What I appreciate most about this book is the time and research that they painstakingly put together. It’s one thing to throw out a few scathing critiques based upon a single blogpost, interview, book, or speaker. It’s an entirely other thing to research and read and watch and attend and immerse yourself in that structure in order to truly understand the underlying currents and beliefs.

And that’s what this book does.

Based upon my experience with the emerging/emergent church, my reading of the authors attributed to the movement, and the conversations I’ve had with those who attracted to it, I found nothing in this book unfounded or unwarranted. And I would recommend it to anyone curious about the movement.

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