Friday, January 02, 2009


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.


Hollywood said...

I serve with Dan Green on the Deacon Board at college roomate is also a is a recent blog entry on the same topic...I thought you would enjoy it.

The McKinney Diner
Saturday, January 03, 2009

I've brought this up before: The current emphasis in Christian publishing on the "mess." You know, books are written (that I happen to like and often recommend, by the way) where jazz is blue and doesn't resolve; the you need mercy on the road while you travel; that spirituality is messy. Again, don't get me wrong...I've enjoyed the books and the way they focus on intropsection can be a good thing.

Unfortunately, thus far, the introspection turns into navel-gazing. None of the books really focus on the beauty of transformation in the spiritual life. It reminds me of how the fitness industry is focusing on the abdominals--getting those washboard abs. Without the diet and well-rounded fitness programs that are needed, you're just going to have washboard abs covered by 3 inches of flab. The Christian navel-gazing is just going to result in discovery of the cobwebs and skeletons in our closets.

The beauty of the walk with Christ is found in TRANSFORMATION. What I once was I no longer am. The exchanged life with Christ, lived as a responce to and exhibition of GRACE.

Again, maybe all of those authors will focus on that reality in their next books. That'd be a good thing, too. They're gifted and provocative writers and I've read their other books as well. I'll pick up the others they write. Let's be clear: I'm not saying those books they've already written are bad or shouldn't be read. They've helped plenty of folks be more transparent with themselves and others. This is generally a good thing.

But, the first book I'm reading this year is titled, Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). I can't imagine that needs any comment or explanation. The two guys are Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. They touched on what I've been thinking thusly, after quoting a musician he knows who said, "In the music scene it's cool to search for God. It's not very cool to find Him.":
"The destination matters little. The journey is the thing...Because the journey is an experience more than a destination, the Christian life requires less doctrinal reflection and more personal introspection. The postmodern infatuation with journey feeds on and into a preoccupation with our own stories. If my grandparents' generation could be a little stoic and not terribly reflective, my generation is introspective at a level somewhere between self-absorption and narcissism. We are so in-tuned with our dysfunctions, hurts, and idiosyncrasies that it often prevents us from growing up because maturity it tantamount to hypocrisy in a world that prizes brokenness more than health."

Jim said...

dont you also think that we as "christians" have given up on the notion of changing and becoming more like christ so that the the transformation from sanctification to glorification is a small step in stead of a great change it seems to me that most of us are satisfied with the status quo enjoying the blessings so richly bestowed upon us by our creator and not really following in fully surrendered obedience. paul said i press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of god. i am not so sure we "press" towards anything but existance. this sould be the prayer of all of us for a renewed compassion for obedience