Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dan Kimball's Balanced Analysis of Emergent

As if I didn't like Kimball enough after reading They Like Jesus But Not the Church, he has now begun a series of posts at his blog discussing some of his thoughts on the emerging church five years after his book on that movement. IMO, Kimball is the best voice from that whole camp. He is wonderfully balanced: committed at once to the authority of Scripture and orthodox Protestantism, but willing to critique what needs to be critiqued and constantly rethink how to be truly missional on all levels.

I recommend the whole post, but here are my two favorite excerpts. The first is on the need to stay focused on evangelism:
But I began missing the conversations I had which were the reasons I was originally in all this. Evangelism - as in seeing "lost" people (using that word in a healthy way) come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, repenting, experiencing grace and recieving [sic] new life by the Spirit and joining in on the mission. We can do alternative worship, but what about non-Christians being saved? We can talk about theology, but what about non-Christians being saved? We can talk about feeding the poor (and absolutely should), but what also about the non-Christian next to us in the office who isn't saved? I got into into the emerging church world because of dreaming and praying for them to experience grace and salvation and then not just being converted but being a disciple of Jesus. But a lot of the discussions I was in was understandably leaning more towards disgruntledness. Which can then have us spend more time on discussions Christians have with each other (ironically kind of like this one!) than on the mission.
The second is on the emerging/emergent terms and his reaction to the movement(s) generally (this one really shows how sane and balanced his approach is):
But... the terms have changed since 5 years ago. You say "emerging church" and it means almost anything any more. So using the terms "emerging church" now have to define it, explain it, correct a lot of misperceptions. I am not wedded to any term and I don't think most people are. I am wedded to the gospel and to Jesus' command of making new disciples not a term. It is incredible thinking back 5 years as I would have had absolutely no ideas that these kind of questions would ever be coming up about "emerging church". I understand why they come up, as the internet has a dark side where it can spread inaccurate reporting and people don't check sources quite often. I also understand because part of the emerging church world does raise theological questions and even make proposals that understandably cause questioning. I have found myself at theological disagreement in the emerging church world in significant ways and with what I feel are very central doctrines. And I want to personally be back to what I was originally in this all for. So, the terminolgy [sic] seems to have been very helpful, but now it is not as helpful if not distracting from that.
Praise God for Dan Kimball's wise voice in the midst of this often heated discussion. We need to listen to people like him who really get why the emergent movement started and what we should learn from it, but who also are unwilling to throw away so much that is so important.

2 comments:

Bill Faris said...

Right on, Andrew! I am excited to see the focus and soundness that underlies Kimball's approach to ministry. I like that, as a younger up-and-coming leader and influence in the church, he seems to know what matters and how to stick to it while still exploring the challenges of speaking boldly about issues of evangelizing and discipling the next generations.

If you like Kimball's clarity, then check out the MP3 of Mark Driscoll's powerful evaluation of highly concerning emergent trends which you can link to off Jeremy Pryor's blog below:

http://jeremypryor.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/mark-driscolls-thorough-evaluation-of-the-emerging-church/

Bill Faris said...

Right on, Andrew! I am excited to see the focus and soundness that underlies Kimball's approach to ministry. I like that, as a younger up-and-coming leader and influence in the church, he seems to know what matters and how to stick to it while still exploring the challenges of speaking boldly about issues of evangelizing and discipling the next generations.

If you like Kimball's clarity, then check out the MP3 of Mark Driscoll's powerful evaluation of highly concerning emergent trends which you can link to off Jeremy Pryor's blog below:

http://jeremypryor.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/mark-driscolls-thorough-evaluation-of-the-emerging-church/