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THE Book To Read On Emergent

In the past six months or so, I have been on a quest to dig to the bottom of the Emergent movement, and write a thorough critique/explanation of it. After listening to this source, however, I am amazed to find my work done already – and my, is it ever done well!

I am referring to he second-last chapter in Mark Driscoll’s recent book “Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions.” This book covers nine hot questions which Driscoll faced in his pastoring ministry. For February only, this book is free off of After this time, the content of this book will still be available from Mark Driscoll’s podcast. (Look for a grouping of sermons with the same name.) His chapter on the Emergent movement…well, it just seems to say all that can be said about it! You can also watch a seven-minute summary of his thoughts on Emergent on YouTube.

I cannot say this strongly enough: if you are curious about the emergent movement, go and buy/read/listen to that chapter!

Driscoll begins this chapter with a brief survey of the history of the emergent movement, in which he reveals that he was one of the early instigators of the movement, who later left the movement to grow personally, to focus on his church and family, and because of growing theological concerns. This movement continued to grow and gain momentum – eventually birthing “The Emergent Village” (a non-profit organization) and four strands of emergentism.

Because “emergent” is such a vague term, Driscoll has replaced this word with “missional.” After all, essence of the emergent movement is a desire to be “missionaries” to our culture.

He then identifies three strands of “evangelical” missional/evangelical churches: 1) traditional evangelical churches which have updated music and scenery (Bruxy Cavey’s The Meetinghouse may fit into this category, also perhaps Don Miller), 2) the house-church movement (lead especially by Barna/Viola and Shane Clairbourne), 3) the young reformed movement (which John Piper and Mark Driscoll are a part of, and which “Why We Are Not Emergent: By Two Guys who Should Be” comes out of. I am also beginning to lean towards this position now). You can tell that he has an opinion about these options, but he is quick to say that these are all evangelical options. At this point, it is an in-house discussion about how to do church best in our post-modern culture.

His tone (rightly) changes drastically when he moves on to the “Liberal-emergent” camp.

These people have committed – openly, and without shame or pretence – the error/sin that I outlined in “Apologetics, the Traitor’s Art.” In an attempt to reach a pagan culture, they have emptied Christianity of it’s heart, and substituted a pagan core into Christianity. As a result, it is no injustice to them to say that the Christianity they are proposing is no longer true Christianity but, at best, a dangerous syncretism with culture, and at worst, paganism repackaged in Christian language. For example, most openly doubt the authority of Scriptures and church tradition, and they shrug away such clear and essential doctrines such as, 1) the reality of hell, 2) that Christ died on a cross for our sins, and 3) that homosexuality and other sexual sins are wrong. Especially when you dig deeply into their thoughts, their influences, their full theological positions, it becomes very clear that the “faith” they are promoting has more influences outside of Christianity than within.

I don’t want to say too much more about this chapter, because I really just want you to read/listen to it! However, one thing I will say in closing is that Driscoll is helpful in that he makes careful distinctions within the emergent camp – something I haven’t been doing a good job with in the past. There are good people who have good things to say within the “missional church” – there are also real nut jobs. We need to make a distinction, and it is clear that Driscoll has the research and life experience behind him to do a faithful job in adequately drawing this dividing line.

Have you got the message yet? Go read the book!! I highly endorse it.

And yes – if you enjoyed reading my review of it, by all means buy it through my link. There will be no extra charge to you, and this will be a kind way of saying “thank you” for the time and effort I put into this blog.

PS: For those of you who dislike Driscoll for other reasons – if you are at all interested in the Emergent movement, I would highly recommend that you put your differences aside and listen to this book anyways. It will do great service to your faith!


  1. “I am referring to he second-last chapter in Mark Driscoll’s recent book “Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions.”

    Chapter 8 would be the one, I think. Hope you enjoy it!

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