Tag Archives: Emergent

The evangelical patient awaits a medieval transfusion


The Summer of Research has given way to the Summer of Writing, issuing in the first halting words of Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants (Baker Books, forthcoming). Here are some initial, gut-level thoughts–rough and unrevised:

I write this book not as an expert but as a pilgrim. The subject is medieval faith, but academically I am an Americanist. I write for the American evangelical Protestant church(es) in a time of intense pain and confusion. Battered by modernity, we have tried in turn rational apologetic, pragmatic ecclesiology, charismatic experience, and postmodern experimentation. None of these has proved lasting.

The rationalism of modern apologetics has collapsed as the questions of the unchurched have turned away from doctrine and the agonies of the churched have centered on spirituality and practice rather than belief.

The pragmatism of the church growth specialists has dissolved, as it always has, as its shallow spirituality has become evident.[1]

The experientialism of the charismatic movement seems often to have failed to build lasting, faithful, discipled churches as worshippers have bounced from one high to the next.

The postmodernisms of some emerging Christians seem already to be veering into heresy.[2] Continue reading

A Catholic journalist on the Emerging Church


National Catholic Reporter writer Tom Roberts has been doing an extended series (23 articles and counting) called “In Search of the Emerging Church.” Articles touch on Shane Claiborne and the new monasticism, Eucharistic communities, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, NM, and much more.

“Emergent” is dead, and the leftovers have gone to the Christian Left, neo-Anabaptism, and neo-Puritanism


I’m in day 3 of Acton University. What follows are my notes from a session that took place yesterday, June 17, 2010. The presenter was Dr. Anthony Bradley, an associate professor of theology and ethics at The King’s College in New York City and a research fellow at the Acton Institute. I am oversimplifying his main arguments in the intentionally provocative title of this post, but I think I’ve captured the basics. If you have any relationship to Emergent, you will doubtless find something in what follows to take offense at. However, I think his typology and analysis of the movement is useful.

Dr. Bradley holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. As a research fellow, Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern international forms of social injustice, slavery, and oppression.

[NOTE: the indenting and numbering format problems in the following post have now been fixed]

The Emergent Church, Bradley

Spoke at the outset about King’s College, where he teaches, which is in Manhattan, in the Empire State Building and across the state. Marvin Olasky is provost of King’s College.

Has been with the institute since 2002. Taught at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Then Olasky “siphoned him off.” He presented on Emergent in 2005/6 at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. They were in a room half the size of this, then they had to put them in another room, seating 300 people. They didn’t realize how big the movement had gotten. But in 2006 it was beginning to END. Started in 1989.

He wrote an article on World Magazine’s website where he declared the end of the movement. Tony Jones, Driscoll, others are saying the movement is over.

20 years is not “new.” These churches are not dead. There are still Emergent churches out there. No longer provocative, though. Not sexy. These churches are full of 30- 40-something people with kids. Men going bald. Continue reading

The culture question: “All things to all men” or “Be ye separate”?


This is the second of my “Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of Christian History Professor” series on Christianity Today International’s history site a few years back. It deals with the Christ-and-culture question:

#2: “All things to all men” or “Be ye separate”?
Chris Armstrong

Dear folks,

In the last installment of “Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of a Christian History Professor,” I took a cue from the Emergent movement and argued that we have to go back to the past to get to the future. (Some Emergents call this sort of thing “Vintage faith“; others, borrowing a phrase from the scholar of historical worship Robert Webber, use the term “Ancient-future faith.”)

More specifically, I argued that we need to read the lives of “the saints”—our forebears, who translated the gospel for their cultures by teaching, preaching, and especially living it—for clues to how we should be translating the gospel for our own cultures.

But now we face a serious question: Is the whole idea of “translating the gospel for culture” off-base to begin with? Continue reading

Emergents, meet saints! The wave of the future needs the wisdom of the past


A few years back the good people at www.christianhistory.net allowed me to do a brief series of “musings of a Christian history professor.” Thinking of my enjoyable chat yesterday over at the Twin Cities Emergent Cohort, I was reminded of this installment, which seemed to resonate with a lot of readers. If you’ve read my recent piece in CT on biography as spiritual discipline or “Top Ten Reasons To Read Christian History,” you’ll recognize some of the themes here:

Dear folks,

Lately my days have been taken up with preparing a book and a course titled Patron Saints for Postmoderns. The project focuses on the lives of Antony of Egypt, Gregory the Great, Margery Kempe, Dante Alighieri, John Comenius, John Newton, Charles Simeon, Amanda Berry Smith, Charles M. Sheldon, and Dorothy L. Sayers.

So the question has haunted me: “Why should Christians today read biographies of ‘dead Christians’ from ages past?”

One particularly forceful answer has hit me from (what some evangelicals might consider) “left field”—the young movement of Emergent Christian thinkers and leaders. Continue reading