The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


"Why We're Not Emergent" - Part 2

Well, this book has really grabbed my interest, and I've been reading it fairly consistently the last few days. It is a comfortable read, and I feel like I'm getting to know the authors and where they are coming from. The book does a good job presenting the arguments against the emergent church in a simple and practical manner. Some good questions are certainly raise. For another positive review, check out Dan Kimbell's post.

Kevin DeYoung is very well-read and educated, and quotes some great authors (G.K. Chesterton for one). He presents the emergent position by pulling from a variety of authors and books, although he seems to lean heavily on McLaren's earlier works (A New Kind of Christian), Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, and then various compilations. Ted Kluck is more colloquial, and attempts to represent a lay person's impressions of the emergent movement.

The first chapter (download it here) critiques emergents call to "epistemic humility," uncertainty and unwillingness to make any absolute claims. Several good points are made, and one of my favorites is a reference to D. A. Carson's analogy of a "asymptotic line" in regards to our knowledge of truth -" a curved line that gets closer and closer to a straight line without ever touching it" (pg 41). Furthermore, they rightly point out that emergents like to say everyone else's interpretations of Scripture are too absolute but don't hesitate to offer their own "true" reading of a passage.

In spite of these positive contributions, the book maintains a sarcastic undertone. There is little respect for blogs (D.A. Carson says in an interview, "Too much information"), continual references to emergents being "hip" with "black-rimmed glasses," drinking coffee, obsessed with their own websites and their catchy self-descriptions (e.g. Erwin McManus "futurist, artist...spiritual and cultural leader") and cashing in on the Christian pop-cultural interest with the emergent church by writing/selling lots of books (some of which have "lots of white space" - can you guess who that's in reference to?) Most of this seems to come from Ted Kluck, who just seems to simply not "like" the emergent style of doing church (if I can make such a general statement). He says at the end of chapter 2:
"I thought A New Kind of Christian was an entertaining read...but ultimately was uncomfortable with some of the liberties he took with Scripture...I enjoy...movies very much, but couldn't accept them as a part of worship....I was really enjoying my church...There were logistical reasons as well, like what to do with our three-year-old while I was sipping a latte and trying to have church in a coffee shop. The fact that I don't like finger-painting in front of people...As it turned out, I wasn't as rebellious as I thought I was." (pgs 62)
These comments are less than helpful at best. I also find it really interesting that the emergent leaders are considered to be "super-hip." Has anyone see pictures of Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, and Tony Jones? Pagitt just recently set up his blog, and there is a full website, complete with chic, artsy photos for the "Why We're Not Emergent" folks too.

So far, the serious chapters are on target and are helpful. But the undertones show that it is really hard to write a criticism without being demeaning or sarcastic, something that is hard for us emergents too.


Nick Johnson said...

Jesse, I am enjoying your posts, especially since they allow me to read vicariously through you since I don't have much time during this part of the quarter. I think you are right about the sarcasm thing being difficult to avoid. It could be that we are quite easy to pick on, and it's always tempting to try to bring people down a peg. At least it's better than being hateful.

Anyway, I don't really have a question at the moment, just wanted to let you know I'm reading your posts and enjoying them.


Kristen Kuzmick said...

Can't wait to pick up this book. I really think that it's important for us as a group to bring up points of opposition to the "emergent" movement.

Let the discussion begin!

Jesse said...

I've emailed w/ both of the authors briefly and invited them to share with our cohort. It doesn't seem they'll be able to visit in person any time soon, but I also thought perhaps we could do like a conference call type thing, or an iChat deal or something. If more people check out the book, or feel like they have questions and the discussion would be worthwhile, let me know and I'll try to set it up -