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Eventually I will add many things to this page. For now I will share an e-mail exchange I had recently that helps describe where i am at on this topic:

XYZ wrote:
Visited your church today and enjoyed the atmosphere and the sermon. What is your view of the "Emergent" church thing. I just read Brian Mclarens book, "Generous Orthodoxy".  My view was very negitive towards his shalow and "Unorthodox" theology. I am reading D.A. Carsons book on the subject now and am finding it refreshing. Where does Cornerstone stand on the Emergent thing, and "truth" as an absolute even in a postmodern culture.
Thanks, XYZ.


Dear XYZ

Thank you for visiting Cornerstone and thank you for sharing your concerns. Your e-mail was refreshing actually, because rarely am I blessed with visitors whom have done research as to why they believe what they believe. Whether I come out on the other end the same place as another, I will always have a respect for those who arrived to their conclusions from well thought out perspectives.

I do believe that by the end of this e-mail you may not determine Cornerstone to be the right place for you. To name a few reasons: I am currently working on my doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary, in Pasadena California in Spiritual Formation and Leadership in an Emergent Church. The second of possible reasons is that if you are a fan of D.A. Carson, you probably don’t agree with women preaching. This Sunday, while I am out of town, Becky Copeland will communicate the message, as she has done before and will do again.

If I may, I would like to take a moment to comment on McLaren and Carson, as well as suggest some recommended readings for your journey.

Brian is actually a friend of mine. He has helped me in many ways. My biggest beef with Brian has less to do with his writings, rather his marketing. In other words, I would prefer that his writings would not end up in the many hands that it does. In my opinion, Brian is not a theologian as much as he is a philosopher. Here was a good man that began to see that much of church/ Christian culture was not working and he began asking a lot of questions. If you, are a typical conservative pastor, such as me getting my divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, you love the gospel, love the word of God and love Jesus, but secretly feeling quite disillusioned with what the church at large has become. Brian, and people like him, gave a guy like me the freedom to ask the kinds of questions I was wrestling with deep down inside. For that, I will always feel indebted to him for. On the other hand, I don’t read him to shape my theology. That is what I mean by my concern about his books in the wrong hands. If you are well studied and use his materials to think outside of the box, excellent. If, though, you only read him and base your theology on his writings, as I have seen some do, it gives me cause for concern. In truth, Brian never wanted that. Unlike many pastors and writers of today, Brian never wanted a cult-like following.

Carson, as best I can tell, does the basics very well. My concern about Carson is that he gives the impression of being very well researched when, in my opinion, as far as Emergent churches, he is not. When Emergent theology really began springing up in the mid 90’s it was really born out of how can bring the historical Biblical Jesus in today’s cultural context. As Ray Anderson puts it in AN EMERGENT THEOLOGY FOR EMERGING CHURCHES , “Emerging churches are not only Spirit-filled, they are raised with Christ and through Christ have access to the Father in the one Spirit (Ephesians 2:17-18). As the inner life of Jesus in his relation to the father is constitutive of Christology, so the inner life of the church in its experience of Jesus Christ by the presence of the Holy Spirit is constitutive of a theology for emerging churches.”

So back to Carson. Have you ever heard Anderson, or emergent people like him, quoted in Carson’s book? At Cornerstone we say that what you see is what you get. Therefore what you saw on Sunday was quite representative of who we are, there are no hidden layers. Is what you saw what you imagined that you would see visiting an emergent church, after reading Carson’s book?

If you will recall history when the printing press began, before mass information such as news papers began, there were two dominate forces that were driving it: the printing of scriptures and the printing of pornography. The same can be said of the internet in the early 90’s, it was a major evangelism tool as well as major expansion of pornography. In both cases there was much fear and concern in the Christian community, some of which quite legit, that demanded that such media’s be put to a stop. Such tools in themselves were considered evil. Emergent theology is in it’s early stages, so just like the days of the printing press, lots of bad (conservative and liberal) theology jumped on the band wagon and called itself Emergent (or post-modern). There were others of us who knew more of what we were-not than what we were, and began asking basic philosophical questions. Just like the printing press days, many pastors took those instances, focused on them and used it as a cry to return to how it was, which to be intellectually honest, only means going back to how it was 20-40 years ago, when they were a kid. I would never say, nor believe that Carson is a bad person, I just believe that post-modern world we need to reach, that the church is rapidly loosing, does not fit into his box. Thus he has found ways to “legitimize” his fears.

XYZ, the traditional church lost people by the boatloads, mostly the children that grew up in them. In response, during the 80’s and 90’s came the birth of consumerist churches which focused how Jesus can be used to improve your life and make you healthy wealthy and wise. It worked for a while, in fact our largest mega-churches often fit into that category. It is very capitalist, but not what Jesus would teach, in my opinion. While we have more mega churches than we ever had in church history, our statistics show we are at our lowest percentage of Christians nationally. Why? Because people are figuring out that by taking a cute little formula, the five verses to solve stress, is not what it is all about.

I know a lot of emerging pastors. The ones I know have go into the ministry because they love Jesus. They want to know what it means to live by the sermon on the mount and to do acts of service like Jesus did. To spend more time discovering what it means to encounter Jesus than to debate who’s box is right and who’s is wrong, much less how can I crush your box so I can show that my box is superior.

Wow XYZ, I am sorry I got so long winded. I also want to make clear that I am not projecting any of this on you, as I don’t know you. I am simply expressing my understanding of what is going on in our culture, to help answer your question better.

I promised you further reading. I could suggest books beyond books, but lets start with four:

Warmly in Christ