Home > Andrew's Blogs, Emerging Church Movement > You Might Be Emergent If . . .

You Might Be Emergent If . . .

This definition is from Tim Challies.  It might help you get a handle on the Emergent Church movement.  Maybe we should have an Emergent litmus test.You might be an emergent Christian:

  • if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac;
  • if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Winks and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem;
  • if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu;
  • if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity;
  • if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage;
  • if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie;
  • if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty;
  • if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life;
  • if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant;
  • if you search for truth but aren’t sure it can be found;
  • if you’ve ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn’t count);
  • if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance;
  • if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naive, and rigid;
  • if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic;
  • if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide;
  • if you want to be the church and not just go to church;
  • if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden;
  • if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus;
  • if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway;
  • if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker;
  • if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way;
  • if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us;
  • if you disdain monological, didactic preaching;
  • if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism—if all or most of this tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.
  1. Brian McLaughlin
    July 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Sorry brother, but this is nonsense. This list comes from stereotypes and overgeneralizations, many of which fit the younger generation overall, liberal Christianity, atheists, and even some evangelical Christians such as myself (I like U2, Newbigin/Wright/Grenz, believe AIDS and poverty are issues, think “story” is important, am sometimes disgusted with modernity, don’t like to talk about heaven (think Wittmer and Reformed theology), etc, etc). I respect Challies, but if this is his definition, he doesn’t truly understand Emerging, the younger generations, or general trends in Christianity.

  2. Andrew Ford
    July 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I made a mistake – Challies did not write this – the Why We are Not Emergent guys wrote this. I thought some of the descriptions were humorous and realized a few fit me. Some are broad generalizations – I agree – but if you were to have emergent guys take a litmus test – most of these statements would be true. And yes, I like U2.

  3. Andrew Ford
    July 27, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I’ll also add: there is much we can learn from the emergent guys, but we know there are some emergent ideas that are very hard to reconcile with Scripture.

  1. July 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm

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