Monday, January 22, 2007

Scott McKnight Defines Emergent Church for Us

Scott McKnight, the self professed emerging theologian from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago writes a good definition for the North American wing of the emerging church movement in Christianity Today. Click on the title of this blog to get there.

He outlines five streams of the movement. Prophetic/Provocative, Postmodern, Praxis Oriented, and Political. (Although, I must say that's a typical modern outline of this postmodern reconsideration of Christianity.) ;-)

I would have to say that I find myself in the Prophetic camp, and Provocative is most likely the better term, having been recently provoked by a nearly criminal element within institutional Chrstianity.

So take a read, and let me know if you fit into one of these definitions, and if so, which one.


David said...

Considering Emergent refuses to be defined (which is part of the definition of Emergent) it's a great article. I think it captures the essense of what this undefinable whatchmacalit is all about.
Earl Crepps in his book "Off Roads Disciplines" does a good job as well.

Pastor Phil said...

He did a good job of nailing jello to the wall - didn't he?

Webb Kline said...

Me thinks he'd make a good politician. ;)

I suppose I have to wear the curse of the prophet's mantle whether I want to or not. As for his definition of missional, which is where I am most aligned beyond prophet, I don't think he really really has grasped it in his own mind yet.

Anonymous said...

Well then, I'd be emerging like a a butterfly from chrysalis. It is kind of disappointing. I am trying real hard to be something that can't be labeled, and there is a label for thinking that way.

Pastor Phil said...


Or perhaps the number of words for the article limited his ability to say it all.

Pastor Phil said...


We all need a modern tag attached to our postmodern thoughts. Didn't you realize you were signing up for joining a club. Next we'll be collecting your dues. ;-)

Steve Hayes said...

Thanks for that.

First time I heard of this "emerging church" thing I asked what it was, and clear information was hard to get.

I kept getting refutations of denunciations of something that I had only just discovered existed. And the refutaions assumed that you were familiar with the denunciations, which in turn assumed that you were familiar with the phenomenon they were denouncing. And they all dropped names of people I had never heard of.

Now I can drop Scott McKnight's name with confidence. And Phil Wyman's :-)

Pastor Phil said...

Dropping my name won't do you any good. People will say something like, "Oh yeah doesn't he play bass for the Stones?"

Anonymous said...

I am still a little irritated about Mr Knights flaming remarks toward Mark Driscoll and his position regarding complimentarianism; especially in light of the fact that he is generally pretty gracious to Mark. However, I sincerely do appreciate Scott. I have just recently read his work, "The Real Mary." I am certainly attempting to read and understand what Scott is saying here in his Emergent article. At least someone is saying something that one can actually bite into and chew on for a while. Granted, I am with Driscoll on most issues as of late, theologically speaking. Mark has been slowly and cautiously moving away from the extremes of the Emergent Movement, and what I would consider dangers-theologically speaking, thank goodness. So, the only thing I may remotely be associated with "emergent" would have to be that which is "missional". Otherwise, I've read McMannus, McLaren, Sweet, Oestricher, Bell, Willard,Warren, Foster et al, and I must admit that of what I have read, It only draws me back toward my historic orthodox reformed roots and away from the mystical, provocative, deconstruction theology and its associated philosophical and epistemological problems regarding truth and knowledge. Craig Koukl from "Stand to Reason" AM 740 San Diego, has some outstanding literature and articles regading this. But, I seriously think that D.A. Carson also has some interesting points regarding the Emergent Movement as a whole that we must consider. Additionally, for those of the mystic/provocative bent, I would also seriously recommend Ray Yungens "A Time of Departing" This one will really cook your noodle!

Anyways, I best quit now before I get banned for spamming your blog or be accused of having used up all your webspace :P


William (hylander)

Pastor Phil said...


Thanks for popping in a giving us some goood background thoughts to this article.

There have been people challenging Carson's book as an far too narrow a view of emergent, but the considerations he poses are good challenges to us all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification of your cross comment. Sorry I am so dense sometimes. This blog takes wide swings from theological arguments I'm not informed enough to follow and the banter that goes over my head (I think because I can't hear the inflection).

I enjoy it none-the-less. Thanks for your work in keeping up the blog!


Pastor Phil said...

Hey ded,

Perhaps I should rename the blog tongue in cheek, or holy sarcasm.

C.S. said...

I thought it was a good article. Thought-provoking. I wasn't sure about his statement, "This emerging ambivalence about who is in and who is out creates a serious problem for evangelism" (p.38). If he had added the word "modern" before the word evangelism, I might agree. I don't think gospel-bearing requires an understanding of who is in and who is out. In fact, more ambivalence about who is in and who is out greatly advances the cause for evangelicals by broadening the definition of disciple and the concept of gospel-bearing. Ambivalence keeps us from wasting time with the process of sorting, a very divisive and I think unbiblical activity. The weed and net parables in Matthew 13 address the temptation to sort before the end time. The point seems to be that sorting is not our job. In and out is not our business. If I bear the gospel in my words and actions indiscriminately, the same gospel will encourage some, convict others, and turn some away. To use an OT commentary metaphor, it is the same sun that both hardens clay and softens butter. So, I agree with him that "any movement that is not evangelistic is failing the Lord", but probably disagree on the definition of evangelism and disciple.

Thanks for the link.

Pastor Phil said...

I agree with you in respect to wondering about that statement. Adding the word "modern" would have helped, but I do find that I struggle with redefining followers, and disciples myself. Our church is working through those definitions as we have a an increasingly pluralistic group developing, and they are coming from all levels of understanding and following.