December 7, 2005

The Radical Reformission 1

Category: Theology - Ecclesiology :: Permalink

Over the past couple of months, as readers of this blog will know, I’ve been reading some stuff relating to what is often called “the emerging church conversation.” I still can’t say that I know exactly what the “emerging church” is all about (though this quiz will let you know if you’re “emergent” or not), largely because I don’t know who really belongs to the “conversation.”

For instance, I often see Anne Lamott’s name mentioned in this connection, but I have no real idea why. That is, why is she identified with the “emerging church” and, say, Lauren Winner isn’t? It’s all very puzzling to me.

Some things are clear. Brian McLaren is “emerging church,” and much of the “conversation” is with or about him and his writings. But it also doesn’t appear to me that everyone in the “conversation” is necessarily in agreement with McLaren.

Given all of that, I have a hard time knowing where to place Mark Driscoll. He’s the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest growing and largest churches in that city, and has founded the Acts 29 Network, which has planted piles of churches in eight countries. My friend Chip had dinner with him after a concert once, and recommended that I check out Driscoll’s book The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out.

I did. I checked it out from the library and will probably end up buying a copy. That’s not because it’s flawless. Driscoll’s tone I frequently find annoying, as if he’s trying to be a stand-up comedian or as if, to borrow a phrase from Andy Crouch, he’s trying to put the hip in discipleship.

At times, too, Driscoll’s discussion is superficial. While it’s somewhat fun to read, his quick treatment of Western cultural history (pp. 161ff.) is really quite shallow. As for the Constantine-bashing in it, I can only repeat what I said the other day: A lot of these guys need to read Against Christianity. I’m more bothered, though, when it appears as if Driscoll is giving a superficial (let alone a cutesy) summary of the Scriptures (as on pp. 28ff., where it becomes evident that Driscoll should work through Jordan’s Primeval Saints).

Still, there’s a lot of very helpful stuff here. For instance, Driscoll points out that the church is now required to answer questions that it has never before been asked, questions such as “If a married couple videotapes their lovemaking solely for their own viewing pleasure, is this a sin?” or “Is it okay to improve my appearance with plastic surgery?” He provides a list of questions that he gets asked quite often by new Christians (pp. 48-49), and says, “Reformission is about the old gospel answering without blushing the new questions that emerge from new cultures.”

Whether he’s “emerging church” or not (and I don’t really care), his book is certainly more practical and helpful than anything in The Church in Emerging Culture!

More later.

Posted by John Barach @ 10:40 am | Discuss (0)

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