Rod Dreher links to Kristen Scharold article in First Things: “The Emerging Church and Its Critics.” It references a book, Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.
Let’s start with Scharold. She paints with a very broad brush.
The emergent church isn’t much different. Its devotees like to tell stories and engage in discussion, but often the dialogue is not helpful and the stories are not very exciting. This is because the emergent “conversation”—“movements” are passé and narrow-minded—lacks the commentary and the narrative of traditional Christian doctrine.
It lacks commentary because emergent “teachers”—“leaders” are too authoritative—refuse to annotate the gospel with anything other than personal speculations. Its stories lack tension because they gloss over the climactic cross and other crucial gospel elements. As a result, the story that they are teaching—a story where Jesus is the protagonist, God is little more than one of Shakespeare’s fools, and culture is the director—is superficially pleasing but deeply disappointing.
Despite my hipster leanings and stale Christian pedigree, I am not emergent, if emergence is defined by its theology instead of just its ethos. And after reading this book, I am even more grateful that I never jumped onto the emergent bandwagon. I am not the only young Christian who appreciates many aspects of postmodern culture but who also yearns for the absolute conviction that DeYoung and Kluck present.
“Some of us long for teaching that has authority, ethics rooted in dogma, and something unique in this world of banal diversity,” DeYoung writes. “We long for Jesus—not a shapeless, formless good-hearted ethical teacher Jesus, but the Jesus of the New Testament, the Jesus of the church, the Jesus of faith, the Jesus of two millennia of Christian witness with all of its unchanging and edgy doctrinal propositions.”
And there are some people who consider themselves part of the “emerging church” who would agree with that.
Because they are reacting against the suburban, middle-class churches of their parents, the emergent ideal is an urban breed of Christianity. Yet the largest church in the cosmopolitan center of the United States, New York City, is Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Redeemer—which, coincidently, is primarily attracting twenty- and thirty-year-olds, many of whom are artists—is a church of rigorous expository preaching that is anchored in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Lots of things to question there … that those attracted to emergent/emerging churches are “reacting against the suburban, middle-class churches of their parents,” that New York is “the cosmopolitan center of the United States,” that this Presbyterian church is attracting young adults specifically because of hardcore Calvinism, and the assumption that there are no “emerging churches” that preach Calvinism.
Some folks who do consider themselves emerging/emergent have commented on the criticisms. See the links here.