I just started reading Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.  Kevin DeYoung, a 30-year-old pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, says that he often becomes frustrated with the emergent church “we’re just in conversation” mantra that can be a crutch that is used to make these emergent leaders “easy to listen to, but impossible to pin down.”  He writes:

It’s one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology.  It’s another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musings and misgivings.  I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore tensions in our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey.  No matter what label you put on it, once you start selling thousands of books, speaking all over the country and world, and being looked to for spiritual and ecclesiastical direction, you’re no longer just a conversation partner.  You are a leader and teacher.  And this is serious business, for as James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness,” (3:1).

What do you think?  A fair critique?

22 comments
  1. Very much a fair critique. I said as much in an earlier comment – these guys are having a public faith crisis, as de facto leaders, and profiting from it.

    I think it’s a travesty.

    As for the book, I really liked it except for one thing: It gave Evangelicals a bit of a pass. Those guys were just too easy on the Evangelical church. A lot of the Emergent critique of us is right on the money, and that should serve to wake us up.

    I do hope in the end good will come out of this… uh, *conversation*

  2. Very much a fair critique. I said as much in an earlier comment – these guys are having a public faith crisis, as de facto leaders, and profiting from it.

    I think it’s a travesty.

    As for the book, I really liked it except for one thing: It gave Evangelicals a bit of a pass. Those guys were just too easy on the Evangelical church. A lot of the Emergent critique of us is right on the money, and that should serve to wake us up.

    I do hope in the end good will come out of this… uh, *conversation*

  3. Very much a fair critique. I said as much in an earlier comment – these guys are having a public faith crisis, as de facto leaders, and profiting from it.

    I think it’s a travesty.

    As for the book, I really liked it except for one thing: It gave Evangelicals a bit of a pass. Those guys were just too easy on the Evangelical church. A lot of the Emergent critique of us is right on the money, and that should serve to wake us up.

    I do hope in the end good will come out of this… uh, *conversation*

  4. Guess it depends on what we think the role of a teacher should be. I have learned more from teachers that help me come to an answer rather than just give me THE answer. It is that way in BlogWorld.. I usually learn more in the comment conversation than from the blog post.

    Now I am not saying that there is not a role for the teaching of doctrine.. I just question how effective it is to just spout a bunch of theological facts. What good is it if we end up with people who know the facts of the faith but can’t talk about those facts without getting contentious.

    On the nonessentials of the faith why not present different views and let folks come to their own conclusion?

  5. Guess it depends on what we think the role of a teacher should be. I have learned more from teachers that help me come to an answer rather than just give me THE answer. It is that way in BlogWorld.. I usually learn more in the comment conversation than from the blog post.

    Now I am not saying that there is not a role for the teaching of doctrine.. I just question how effective it is to just spout a bunch of theological facts. What good is it if we end up with people who know the facts of the faith but can’t talk about those facts without getting contentious.

    On the nonessentials of the faith why not present different views and let folks come to their own conclusion?

  6. Guess it depends on what we think the role of a teacher should be. I have learned more from teachers that help me come to an answer rather than just give me THE answer. It is that way in BlogWorld.. I usually learn more in the comment conversation than from the blog post.

    Now I am not saying that there is not a role for the teaching of doctrine.. I just question how effective it is to just spout a bunch of theological facts. What good is it if we end up with people who know the facts of the faith but can’t talk about those facts without getting contentious.

    On the nonessentials of the faith why not present different views and let folks come to their own conclusion?

  7. Kansas Bob,

    I agree that simply “spouting theological facts” is no way to teach. That style has long been discredited among people who are passionate about communicating truth, so I don’t know how helpful it is to argue against it.

    I mean, is that what you see happening?

    I’m sorry if you do…

    The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning. If learning is not happening, then the teacher is not teaching.

    What is at issue here however is the content. If I’m asking you (or myself) a bunch of questions, but they consistently end up leading to false conclusions, then I am in effect a false teacher.

    So at the risk of repeating myself, let me state this: Nobody I hear has a beef with Rob’s teaching style; rather, it is what he is teaching and the conclusions that he ends up making that are the issue.

    As for simply knowing theological facts but not living them, Jesus is clear: The one who hears the Word and does not practice it is like a man building his house on the sand. James adds that he decieves himself.

    It is that very head knowledge, or intellectual assent to good theology, without practice, that leads to the contention you speak of. So I’m with you on that.

    One of the greatest sins of conservative Protestants and Evangelicals is that we have these great Doctrinal Statements but we don’t actually practice the lifestyle they imply.

    That amounts to a practical agnosticism or even atheism in my mind, because if you say you believe something but it has no impact on how you actually live, then you simply don’t believe it.

    On your last point, let me quote Augustine: “On the essentials, unity. On convictions, liberty. In all things, charity.”

  8. Kansas Bob,

    I agree that simply “spouting theological facts” is no way to teach. That style has long been discredited among people who are passionate about communicating truth, so I don’t know how helpful it is to argue against it.

    I mean, is that what you see happening?

    I’m sorry if you do…

    The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning. If learning is not happening, then the teacher is not teaching.

    What is at issue here however is the content. If I’m asking you (or myself) a bunch of questions, but they consistently end up leading to false conclusions, then I am in effect a false teacher.

    So at the risk of repeating myself, let me state this: Nobody I hear has a beef with Rob’s teaching style; rather, it is what he is teaching and the conclusions that he ends up making that are the issue.

    As for simply knowing theological facts but not living them, Jesus is clear: The one who hears the Word and does not practice it is like a man building his house on the sand. James adds that he decieves himself.

    It is that very head knowledge, or intellectual assent to good theology, without practice, that leads to the contention you speak of. So I’m with you on that.

    One of the greatest sins of conservative Protestants and Evangelicals is that we have these great Doctrinal Statements but we don’t actually practice the lifestyle they imply.

    That amounts to a practical agnosticism or even atheism in my mind, because if you say you believe something but it has no impact on how you actually live, then you simply don’t believe it.

    On your last point, let me quote Augustine: “On the essentials, unity. On convictions, liberty. In all things, charity.”

  9. Kansas Bob,

    I agree that simply “spouting theological facts” is no way to teach. That style has long been discredited among people who are passionate about communicating truth, so I don’t know how helpful it is to argue against it.

    I mean, is that what you see happening?

    I’m sorry if you do…

    The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning. If learning is not happening, then the teacher is not teaching.

    What is at issue here however is the content. If I’m asking you (or myself) a bunch of questions, but they consistently end up leading to false conclusions, then I am in effect a false teacher.

    So at the risk of repeating myself, let me state this: Nobody I hear has a beef with Rob’s teaching style; rather, it is what he is teaching and the conclusions that he ends up making that are the issue.

    As for simply knowing theological facts but not living them, Jesus is clear: The one who hears the Word and does not practice it is like a man building his house on the sand. James adds that he decieves himself.

    It is that very head knowledge, or intellectual assent to good theology, without practice, that leads to the contention you speak of. So I’m with you on that.

    One of the greatest sins of conservative Protestants and Evangelicals is that we have these great Doctrinal Statements but we don’t actually practice the lifestyle they imply.

    That amounts to a practical agnosticism or even atheism in my mind, because if you say you believe something but it has no impact on how you actually live, then you simply don’t believe it.

    On your last point, let me quote Augustine: “On the essentials, unity. On convictions, liberty. In all things, charity.”

  10. I think that I was reacting to the idea that a leader/teacher should not be “just a conversation partner”.. maybe I was reading too much into that Shane.

    If we are not talking about the nonessentials then it might help if you gave me a few examples of what essentials you think emergent leaders need to be clearer on.

  11. I think that I was reacting to the idea that a leader/teacher should not be “just a conversation partner”.. maybe I was reading too much into that Shane.

    If we are not talking about the nonessentials then it might help if you gave me a few examples of what essentials you think emergent leaders need to be clearer on.

  12. I think that I was reacting to the idea that a leader/teacher should not be “just a conversation partner”.. maybe I was reading too much into that Shane.

    If we are not talking about the nonessentials then it might help if you gave me a few examples of what essentials you think emergent leaders need to be clearer on.

  13. Shane and Bob,

    Looking at my last comment, I certainly did not sound too gracious. Please forgive me, as that was not my intention!

    I still stand behind the content of my statement, but the tone could sure use some help! That’s one of the problems with blogging – it’s easy to fire off a response without thinking enough about it, and it’s hard to read the tone of “voice”.

    As you can see, I get worked up about this stuff…

  14. Shane and Bob,

    Looking at my last comment, I certainly did not sound too gracious. Please forgive me, as that was not my intention!

    I still stand behind the content of my statement, but the tone could sure use some help! That’s one of the problems with blogging – it’s easy to fire off a response without thinking enough about it, and it’s hard to read the tone of “voice”.

    As you can see, I get worked up about this stuff…

  15. Shane and Bob,

    Looking at my last comment, I certainly did not sound too gracious. Please forgive me, as that was not my intention!

    I still stand behind the content of my statement, but the tone could sure use some help! That’s one of the problems with blogging – it’s easy to fire off a response without thinking enough about it, and it’s hard to read the tone of “voice”.

    As you can see, I get worked up about this stuff…

  16. I have not read the book but the emergent movement is one I struggle to understand. I have been frustrated in my few conversations with people in this area; I have not been able to get them to articulate their positions in a way I can follow.

    Maybe it is just me.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

  17. I have not read the book but the emergent movement is one I struggle to understand. I have been frustrated in my few conversations with people in this area; I have not been able to get them to articulate their positions in a way I can follow.

    Maybe it is just me.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

  18. I have not read the book but the emergent movement is one I struggle to understand. I have been frustrated in my few conversations with people in this area; I have not been able to get them to articulate their positions in a way I can follow.

    Maybe it is just me.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

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