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What is the Emergent Church emerging from? In short, it is emerging from the established, modernistic (rational), traditional church that appears to be stuck in bland traditionalism and is out of touch with the post-modern society. At least, that is what I gather from reading their material. When reading emerging authors I find them talking about how a new church is emerging, one in which the old sterile approaches to religion are reassessed and new, more adaptive and relative approaches are utilized to meet the needs of the unchurched. This fits perfectly into contemporary culture where truth is relative and conveniences in life, home, and food are pervasive.
"May I take your order?"
"Yes, I'd like a religious experience, please, with extra feelings, but no absolute doctrine."
"Alright. That'll be one emotional trip, stripped. Would you like anything else with that?
"Uh, well, yes, can I have a side of candles, non judgmentalism, and some theological deconstruction?"
"Alright, so you want a light, free, decon. Is that all?"
"No wait, I just remembered. Can I have a truth slushy? I want it really slushy!
"Very good, that'll cost you biblical truth and eternal life at the window."
The above dialog is meant to be humorous, but there is truth in it. At the drive-through theology window, those who are raised in a society that has largely rejected absolutes feel at home with the convenience of a "have it your way" belief system. They have "emerged" from stringent absolutes and prefer relativity in both truth and morals. Their relativism is only a pendulum-swing away from recently-historical modernism. Its scientific mindset has permeated so much of society that many of the youth are now emerging into intellectual and spiritual rebellion.
So, the Emerging Church is trying to emerge from what it perceives is still denominationalism and needless doctrinal differences that have caused the Christian church as a whole to fail to carry out its evangelistic calling. This is fine as long as the absolutes of Christian truth are not compromised. This does not mean that the minutia of Christianity is Christianity. Rather, it means that Christianity comprises the truths known as the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, Christ's resurrection, and justification by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone.
Let's hope that the Emerging Church is not trying to emerge from these truths. Let's hope that it continues to hold to orthodoxy while it repackages the truths for a new culture and new generation of people who need to hear its truths.