Thinking through Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Moody, 2008
In the chapter, “Journey: Are the Pilgrims still making Progress?” the authors discuss the tension between the journey itself, and the destination. They quote a sentiment which is widely accepted, and perhaps especially in the emergent church that “The destination matters little. The journey is the thing” (p.32)
Here’s where it’s fun to blog through a book, not critiquing the book necessarily, but looking for application for oneself. I’m going to talk about a direction that the chapter doesn’t really go. The authors go the direction of “certainty/uncertainty,” and even get around to discussing the emergent handling of homosexuality. I’d rather talk about heaven.
The pendulum still swings, though it is hard to tell when it has reached bottom (to borrow a market term). When I was growing up, we were all going to heaven. Now, we are living the Christian life. When I was growing up, people were living the Christian life on their way to heaven. Now, we are living the Christian life, and heaven will happen eventually. See the difference?
My pastor used to refer to people who were “so heavenly minded they were no earthly good.” I’m not sure I know anyone like that these days. We may now be so earthly minded, we are no heavenly good. And the trends in the American church are further toward friendship with the world, and enmity toward God (James 4).
This is not an us vs. them problem. This is a virus the emergent church caught from the evangelicals, and now the tumors are breaking through the surface. All of us need to catch a hunger for heaven that begins to break the attachments we have to this world.
Let me take a breath and clarify. When I say “heaven,” I don’t mean an escape from God’s creation into something else. No, I understand 2 Peter 3, where he speaks of “waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2Peter 3:13 ESV) I know that God’s creation is good, and that it awaits final redemption, though it will be dragged through the purging wringer in order to ready it for that day. Also, I am not advocating isolationism. We must break with the world even as we love sinners and sacrifice and suffer for them.
Our problem is our attachment to this world, and the current state of things – to its comforts; its prosperities; its entertainments; its coolness; its congratulations. We seem not to believe the following biblical phrases: “the present form of this world is passing away.” (1Corinthians 7:31 ESV); “And the world is passing away along with its desires,” (1John 2:17 ESV). Our journey seems to have lost its destination, and we think we can settle here, comfortably.
I want to affirm the importance of the journey. God uses the journey to prepare us for the destination. Each test; each gift; each trial is used by God to wean us from the world and make us thirsty for Christ. But somehow, we seem to be missing the lessons.
And I also want to affirm the importance of the destination. So let me go back to those intriguing words from 2 Peter: “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2Peter 3:11-12 ESV).
The American church is way out of balance, and we are veering away from center.