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What is the Emergent Church?

Emergent Church members see different meaning in Jesus' teaching than what was believed years ago.
Unlike those in the emergent church, evangelical Protestants feel that the Bible is the absolute truth.
Emergent church members look for deep meaning in scripture.
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  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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The emergent church is a fairly new movement in the Protestant church that considers theological questions about the church and the Bible. Rather than accepting historical church traditions as absolute, emergent church members seek to experience their faith in today's world and seek solutions for today's problems. The emergent church philosophy of religious relevancy has helped attract younger adults back to attending church, but is controversial among both evangelical Protestants and mainline Protestants.

Unlike those in the emergent church, evangelical Protestants feel that the Bible is the absolute truth. They believe that belief in Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation and that a person must accept that salvation and be "born again." The word "evangelical" comes from the Greek "evangel" meaning the Good News of Jesus; evangelicals believe in spreading the Good News of Jesus.

Like those in the emergent church, mainline Protestants do not feel that the Bible is absolute, but tend to take the content of the Bible in context. They see that different interpretations of Bible scripture are possible. Mainline Protestants do not see conversion as necessary for salvation like evangelicals.

However, many mainline Protestants, like evangelical Protestants, also see the traditions of Christianity as being important. Many mainline Protestants fear that the Bible and traditional Protestant Christianity itself may be lost in the emergent church movement. Evangelical Protestants further protest that the gospel is truth and should not be challenged.

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The emergent church, also called the emerging church, is considered post-Protestant, post-evangelical, and postmodern. Whereas modernism is associated with unquestionable truth, postmodernism questions power bases and emotionally manifested ideas behind what is called truth. While modernism sees only one answer, postmodernism sees the possibility of several different answers as well as the possibility that there may sometimes be no immediate or simple answer.

Emergent church members, usually young and white, look for deeper meaning in scripture and ask theological questions such as, "How do we know this is the truth?" and "How do we know this happened?" They believe that following Jesus' teachings today means different things than it did hundreds of years ago. They seek relevancy and feel the Bible can be, and has been, interpreted in many different ways. The emergent church believes that Christianity must be concerned with having a global perspective and not only thinking of the power of the white, middle-class, status quo; emergent church members see the church as having done so traditionally.

Emergent church ministers often wear jeans and allow guitars and modern music during services. The contemporary culture of the emergent church is usually quite informal and couches often replace pews. A face to face communication style where each member is seen as having a voice to be heard is the goal of most emergent church congregations.

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anon131211
Post 12

"I am the Way the Truth and the Light. No one gets to the Father except through me." This was written about 70 years after Jesus walked the earth by the author of the fourth gospel we know as John. Whether Jesus actually said these words is problematic, but it certainly doesn't sound like the same Jesus we met in the synoptic gospels, does it?

anon127521
Post 11

I am an evangelical protestant who attends a service that could be categorized as emergent. Your article lacks any understanding of it.

anon125819
Post 10

Nothing will ever substitute for the pure doctrinal substance of the word of God. All falsehoods like the Emergent philosophy will eventually fall due to God's anger with apostasy.

amypollick
Post 9

@Anon89641: The Bible has a smattering of Aramaic in it, but the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Many scholars read both languages with a fair degree of accuracy. There's also the Septuagint, which was the Old Testament written in Greek for the Diaspora.

Jesus Christ almost certainly spoke Aramaic as his everyday language, but read the scriptures in the Temple in Hebrew, and probably knew a few words of Greek. Most people did. The Bible, however, wasn't written in Aramaic.

anon89641
Post 8

Unless people today can read the original bible, in the Aramaic language, then all translations and interpretations are suspect.

anon73980
Post 7

Responding to comment no. 2, if we are going to ask God about this movement you can be sure He is going to answer us with the Bible itself.

We cannot assume that something is right without comparing our thoughts and feelings with the very word of God.

Remember, God says in His word that men's hearts are continually evil. Let us get back to the basis and understand that without His word, we fall into the adding or taking away from His word.

anon59790
Post 6

There are concerns that I have pertaining to the "emergent church". However, I believe that this is a response to the way we have done church for so long. The traditional church has been guilty of mixing tradition with truth. So much so that tradition in many ways out shines truth. There is no wonder why the "emergents" are skeptical of the church as it has been done for so long.

It is time that we as a Christ's body admit that we have tried to follow Christianity more with our heads than we have with our hearts. We have tried to box God into denominational compartments. The division that exists among the Body of Christ occur when traditions and opinions are allowed to trump unity.

anon58690
Post 5

The Emerging Church is a scary movement. It's all about throwing tradition aside and starting a completely new path that ignores the importance and relevance of the Bible for us today.

I understand that change is needed as we go through life, but it has to be change that doesn't contradict the Bible. Asking "What is truth?" can be a good thing, but only when you're looking into the Bible to find that truth. Remember, the Bible is all authoritative because it's God's inspired Word to us. If we're looking somewhere other than there for answers, we're failing to do what God wants us to do. Looking for the answer to the question "What is truth?" anywhere other than the Bible is just foolish.

I like the aspect of the emerging church in that they're all about helping people and developing loving relationships, basing nothing on who you are, but just that you're human like the rest of us. That's great. But neglecting to share the one true gospel is neglecting to do our job as Christians.

The Emerging Church claims to want to do things as Jesus would in today's culture, but I don't think they're doing a good job at it. Also, incorporating good elements from other religions can be a very dangerous thing, so be mindful of that also.

It seems like they're all about getting rid of any history with Christianity, and starting a new direction. Remember: tradition doesn't necessarily need to be kept all the time, but it definitely doesn't mean you have to throw all of it completely to the wayside.

anon53577
Post 4

In the first paragraph it is made to sound like the emergent church is merely a protestant theology discussion group. It is not protestant; it is 'modern emotional belief in Jesus with no doctrine to stand on'!

The emergent church has doctrine (little as it is) based on emotions, not emotions about whether doctrine is true!

anon51721
Post 3

Asking "What is truth?" is great! So-long-as you actually find the truth. Then again, how many have asked this question and used it as an excuse to pursue their own fleshly desires? How many more fall upon grace as an excuse? Do you recall the standard of grace as a much higher standard than the law? I do.

anon41344
Post 2

If you have a relationship with the creator of the universe you should ask him what he thinks of this movement rather than assuming things. Jesus' disciples were always assuming things (especially who was wrong and should be judged) while Jesus was speaking the truth and healing people.

anon37752
Post 1

Something about Jesus saying "I am the Way the Truth and the Light. No one gets to the Father except through me." tells me that the creator of the universe would not look pleasingly upon this movement.

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