Monday, May 07, 2007

Driscoll and the Emerging Church Conversation

I've had various talks with various people in various venues about the emerging church conversation. Generally speaking, I'm favorably disposed towards it, and think there is a lot to emply, though of course without embracing all of its tributaries (as if that were even possible). Many people view the conversation through the lens of Brian McLaren and others of his stream. I tend more towards the Reformed stream and often refer to Mark Driscoll. I haven't read anything first hand by McLaren (which is admittedly myopic on my part) which may be why I don't get so fired up when people bring up the topic, but I love Driscoll.

HOWEVER, people regularly, though with varying degrees of certainty, inform me that I am incorrectly associating Mark with the emerging church and that he left it a while back or at least disassociated himself. Granted, my take is based on his book Confessions of a Reformation Rev. Yet, the subtitle inclines me to think I'm right (hard lessons learned from an emerging missional church), not to mention the summary on the back cover (which opens with "Mark Driscoll's emerging missional church...). However, if that's not enough, I thought I'd point out several statements he makes in the book that I came across while rereading it this past weekend:

"Since the movevment, if it can be called that, is young and is still defining its theological center, I do not want to portray the movement as ideologically unified because I myself swim in the theologically conservative stream of the emerging church" (p. 22).

"For some Emergent [which Driscoll sharply distinguishes from the broader emerging] leaders, this critique may be as welcome as water on a cat. But I assure you that I speak as one within the Emerging Church Movememtn who has great love and appreciation for Christian leaders with theological convictions much different from my own" (p. 23).

Now granted, the book was published in 2006; maybe something has changed since then. Yet, I think his disassociation is more with people in the movement, and/or Emergent, which should not be confused with the emerging church conversation/movement (which is MUCH broader). I remain open to more recent correction if it's out there. In the meantime, I STRONGLY commend Scot Mcknight's lecture on the four rivers of the Emerging Church delivered at Westminster. It's a great explanation from a scholar within the movement communicated to those of a conservative, reformed mindset outside the movement. Very helpful and balanced. You can read the PDF here. I tried to find the audio files for it, but it appears you have to pay money for it now. Still, it's worth the read.

P.S. In case I was too subtle, this does indicate I finally finished ANOTHER book and in one weekend at that! Yeah, yeah, it WAS a Driscoll book and I HAD already read it, but heh...200 pages is 200 pages, and I'm not done for the month of May :-)


Elmo said...

In the intro to Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches Robert Webber says this about Driscoll: "Mark represents a passionate adherence to...Reformed evangelical theology, and in that sense, is not typically emerging. He is a theological traditionalist leading a cutting-edge church that ministers primarily to the new emerging generation."

I think Driscoll is emerging in practice, but not in theology, as McLaren, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt are. While Driscoll is willing to "become all things to all men", the latter three are willing to throw the doctrines of faith out in order to align with the prevailing cultural wisdom.

Obviously, I, like you, side with Driscoll on this one.

smlogan said...

you idiot...
you used 'balance' in a positive light (after n-land, you told your friends to correct you if you ever did that).

mcclaren (at least 'generous orthodoxy') is probably not worth the read - maybe a photoread. it remains the most over-hyped suggestion i ever pursued (with the least return on a $12 investment; the fact that it was a gift card and not my own money is my only consolation).

i had to set it down after 60 pages. i've never seen anyone (so well-known) talk out of both sides of his mouth like this guy.
it was the old:
1)i was raised a conservative and i reject that, though i'm not a liberal although i love them and we all need to listen to them and get in bed with them.
2)the Jesus i learned about in sunday school was sadly misrepresented in comparison with the radical, edgy, grizzly Christ the Scriptures portray.
3) then there is the whole 'i'm all things to all men anywhere on the continuum bit that is his thesis ad infinitum, ad nauseum...
"arminian/calvinist, catholic/protestant, continuist/cessasionist".

baylor literally got to the point where he refused to let me read him quotations from the guy cuz he was nearly dryheaving.

it's not that i dont see the value of hearing and attending to an opposing view...i'm down with that - but not when they apologize for it, then commend it in the same sentence.

Nate Mihelis said...

Elmo: good distinction, I think the phrase Driscoll uses is theologically conservative and culturally liberal (which I LOVE).

Logan: Thanks for the accountability :-) I must admit, I struggle to use the term; yet applying it to someone like Mark gives me great joy, knowing that the folks you mentioned would consider him anything but balanced.
BTW, congrats on the librarian thing! I may need to bunk down with you before to long, so if Lindsey doesn't join you soon, I may!

smlogan said...

it's not a done deal, but seems like a promising option - especially in light of my last attempt to work at a seminary library.

come ahead...
and thanks for putting that part about lindsay in there. i'm at a standing desk/computer space right now, and my knees were real close to giving way when i read: "i may need to bunk down with you." i'm lonely, but even i have limits.
after the intership in detroit that summer, i thought we agreed never to discuss the issue - ever again.

but seriously, whether she's here or not - you are welcome. i would love to return the hospitality you and dawn showed me in times past. my study has more space than in va, so there'd be plenty of room for you.

Pitchford said...

Hey, I too swore off the term "balanced" after my n-land days. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Maybe we can keep each other accountable (to use another favorite n-land expression).