I try to be fair. Whether I am always successful is, of course, subject to debate, but the attempt is there. In the interest of that idea of fairness, and because I think it's thoughtful and does a good job at presenting a balance, I thought it a good idea to present this professor's thoughts concerning the Emergent Church and it's offshoots.
It is fair, I think, because I am critical of the movement, or at least of some who are leaders in the movement. And not without reason, I contend. People like McLaren can tend to talk and write in vagueness, but sometimes whenever they stumble into clarity, what they say can at the least be troubling.
And in recent times, the movement has fragmented, as some who were in the movement have become uncomfortable with its direction and have broken from it. Perhaps most notable is Mark Driscoll, a pastor in Seattle, who recently called out people like McLaren in some of the things they have written and said.
In this, I think this professor, Bock, gives a fairly balanced view of the movement, in regards to its strengths and its faults.
.link to "bock's blog"
At the risk of countering what I just wrote, I'm not so certain of his first three points, where he says that he sees "these clear strengths". He may have some good points in them, but I also question them. In the first, I would have liked if he had explained what he labelled "its (modernity's) spirit of freedom and quest for human autonomy". The second tries to bring up "consumer culture", as if greed were some kind of new thing. I'm also not certain of what he's saying about the the church's budgets. Perhaps church's could spend differently, though that is also something each church must decide for itself. The third seems to want to blame things like technology for our supposed disconnectedness. While, much like Chesterton, I'm not a big fan of efficiency, it has it's place but can become a demon when made a god.
I'm simply not certain that we are to some extent more isolated because of technology then we were in olden times. I'm not certain there isn't a kind of "good old days" time of golden fog over how some people see the past, and I realize that is at least borderline arrogant of me. But I am a person of this day and time, and without apology. I have a liking for things like e-mail, the internet, computers, cars, airplanes, television. Maybe not telephones, maybe those can be labelled as 'spawns of evil'.
Anyway, concerning the next list of strengths, nine in number, I have no problems with. And the six concerns he gives are things I have seen as well.
If I may give one more possible strength of the movement, it is in the idea of trying to do church services in different kinds of ways. I do like the idea of church being something more then a gathering to sit and listen, sing a few songs, and meet and greet a bit. Most churches are, though, in that they often have more then just a couple of services a week.
The movement must not be condemned as a whole--there are some good things coming out of it. At the same time, as Professor Bock says, there are things to be concerned about it in. And the sad things is, those who want to be known as leaders in the movement are not helping it by their words