Here are four reasons why I wrote “Where Do We Stand? Postmodernism, the Emergent Church, and Apostolics.” Hopefully this will clarify some misinterpretations.
1. I wanted to simplify and distill some of the issues facing the church so people on both sides can understand the other. This is probably the greatest shortcoming of the article; I overly-simplified the issues. I think both sides (if there are only two) make sweeping generalizations about the other without full understanding. For example, I doubt if we have any true emergents among us, though we tend to lump everything we don’t understand into one category. I think a lot of our guys are using “emergent” to describe anything postmodern, just as we used to use “charismatic” for anything non-denominational. This is neither accurate nor helpful. Too, it is a strategic mistake for people to point all their guns at the emergent church and not deal with the underlying issues. What happens when the emergents go away? Who will be our enemy then? Accordingly, I tried to communicate that the emergent church is not to be confused with postmodernism in general; rather, it is an extreme expression of postmodernism. I tried to make this distinction in the article. If the article was not clear in this regard, I will try to do better in the future.
2. I wanted to initiate dialog. I tried very earnestly not to be disrespectful, condescending, or misrepresenting. However, the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to stand.
3. I wanted to challenge both the establishment and the up-and-comers in a responsible, respectful way. Change is here, and if we don’t realize it, we will shrivel into nothing. On the other hand, there is an appropriate way to engage change. Our core theology is right. We cannot abandon our core because our methods and church culture are perceived to be stale. We need to understand where we came from and how we got here, and we need a sustainable plan of succession.
4. I wanted to redirect the conversation from fighting over cultural preferences to defining what is truly apostolic. Theology is first. Period. We start with theological commitments. Culture and methods (which I will address in upcoming articles) are secondary.