Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Emergent Mystique

Brian McLaren is not particularly young. He was born in 1956 and he doesn't have cool hair, if only because he has very little hair at all. With his blue-jeans-and-Birkenstocks dress code and a middle-age paunch, he looks like a suburban, nondenominational pastor who came of age playing the guitar for youth ministry meetings in the 1970s.
Which is exactly what he is. Yet he is also the de facto spiritual leader for the emerging church, thanks to his indefatigable speaking and writing schedule that produced, among his many books, 2001's A New Kind of Christian.

"Life in the church had become so small," Kristen says. "It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working." The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself?"discovering the Bible as a human product," as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. "The Bible is still in the center for us," Rob says, "but it's a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it."

"I grew up thinking that we've figured out the Bible," Kristen says, "that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again?like life used to be black and white, and now it's in color."

The more I talk with the Bells, the more aware I am that they are telling me a conversion narrative?not a story of salvation in the strict sense, but of having been delivered from a small life into a big life. The Bells, who flourished at evangelical institutions from Wheaton to Fuller Theological Seminary to Grand Rapids's Calvary Church before starting Mars Hill, were by their own account happy and successful young evangelicals.

Andy Crouch writes a significant lead article in a recent issue of Christianity Today that seeks to analyze the Emergent Conversation in the midst of our current culture.

Also be sure to note the several links at the bottom of the article. Posted by Hello


Anonymous said...

I'll have to seek out this issue of CT to see what they have to say about the "Emergent Mystique." I read Crouch's article online last week, and, honestly, it just seemed to be more of the same "candles and incense" rap on the emerging church -- all style and no substance. How 2001 is that?! I hope there's more to this cover story than just a pretty picture ...

What's your take on the whole CT package, Stephen?

--Steve K.

Stephen said...

Hi Steve,

What do you mean ab "CT Package"?