The more I’ve come to reflect on this whole “emerging church” phenomena, the more I’ve had to confront why it’s very existence offends me so. In this age of open tolerance, it is probably unthinkable to many inside and outside that movement that I should condemn it so readily. Some would accuse me of condemning it only on the grounds that I have failed to understand it. And to such claims I would have to respond partially in the affirmative; I do not understand it. Or, rather, I do not understand what motivates it. I do not understand its driving force. From my vantage point, it amounts to nothing more than postmodern nihilism masquerading as the right means to make the timeless Truth of God accessible to contemporary culture.
Speaking as one who violently ripped himself from the Faith for so long, perhaps I am incapable of conceiving of the mentality that holds that Christianity is something which can be and ought to be morphed to fit my own life. I recall early on in my exploration of the Orthodox Church a priest telling me that we, as human beings, cannot be the measure of our own faith; instead we must look to the Church to set the standards we live, love, and worship by. And while that observation didn’t necessarily confirm or deny any branch of Christianity claiming to be the Church, my further historical, spiritual, and theological inquiries led me to believe wholeheartedly that the Orthodox were the only “one holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church” of the Creed.
What offends me so about the “emerging church” movement is that it approaches Christianity with not the slightest bit of humility. It assumes from the get-go that it—a historical construction of the last decade—can be the measure of faith and that the “T”ruth of the faith is malleable. The Wisdom of God is perceived to have some sort of perverse plasticity to it. In its quest to make Christianity relevant, the “emerging church” movement neutralizes Christianity’s claim to be the Truth. It throws out the possibility of a living, breathing Church by which one can measure their faith and holds Truth suspect in that Truth can be sliced, diced, breaded, fried, and devoured in a smorgasbord of transient, historically rooted truths that will not last the ages (or, perhaps, the decade).
I see this mentality as nothing but acid which corrodes the faith. It belittles Christianity by turning it into “just another idea”; a human construct that can be picked apart, reworked, and critiqued on human terms. It dances to the tune of the week and where will it go when that’s no longer in style? What becomes of the “hard sayings” of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ when they fail to jive with the “emergent” mentality? Are they disregarded? Who are they to disregard God? The atheist and the agnostic find more sympathy from me. So long as they reject or cower from God’s Existence, they cannot seek to undermine Him in this world by spreading vicious lies about His Truth. All they can do is whine that he is not there and savor their own dogmatism concerning His (un)perceived non-existence. They are but a faint buzz, barely intelligible to the Church’s ear. They are not a rotting cancer upon the very heart of the Church and the Faith of Jesus Christ. That dishonor belongs to the “emerging church” movement and others in their ilk alone.
All of this is not to say that people involved in the “emerging church” movement are necessarily evil or set out with wicked intentions. They are themselves not necessarily enemies of the Church, even if their motivation and ideology is a disease. Many are lost sheep as I too was once lost. Many are seeking something genuine, but have yet to realize how dastardly our contemporary schools of thought are in thwarting one from ever finding the Truth or even truly seeking it. I fear there are those within it who may know the dangerous game they play with the Truth and simply not care. There are some whom I believe ought to know better, but for whatever reason they keep on preaching their corrupted version of Christ and His Church. I have to wonder why they continue. Are they suffering from cognitive dissonance? Do they fear a loss of their “meal ticket” if they should abandon the project? It would be too easy and probably quite incorrect to paint them as villains; but what then are they?
I am perplexed, but my scorn for the movement remains intact. I pray that those caught up in it all will come to question what it is they are caught up in. I pray that through the use of critical reasoning and honest-to-God soul searching, they will see the emptiness staring back where God ought to be. I hope that when it is all said and done, those burned by the movement will still have enough love left in their hearts to continue on in the journey to seek God and His Love. If the “emerging church” movement should prove to have eradicated that in their followers when it all passes with the tide, it may well be considered to be the greatest heresy yet to manifest itself in Christianity’s storied and struggling 2,000 year history.