Monday, March 27, 2006
The Emerging Church--A Reformed Heritage?
Last Saturday, Andrew Jones posted "The Missional Church: Reformed Heritage?." His conclusion?

Am I saying the the missional emphasis of the emerging-missional church has its roots in Reformed thinking?
Yes I am. The emerging-missional church has placed a stronger emphasis on the sovereignty of the Triune God in the area of mission, an emphasis with a clear heritage back to the 1950's. The idea of "missional church' has always seemed Reformed to me. Especially the idea that God is sovereign over his missional aims and the role of the church is more participation than innovation. Sometimes I wonder if we are reverting to the days of William Carey who argued for the use of "means" for the work of missions in response to those insisting that God would sort it out Himself. Except the emerging-missional church might be on the other side of the table from William Carey.

Now thats an interesting thought.

It may be, but I am not convinced.

Tim Keller and Scot McKnight have pointed out some problems in the comments section of Jones' post. Here is Keller's thought:

Andrew--I've always thought that Lesslie Newbigin's work was seminal to the whole missional/emerging church movement, and he was deeply Reformed. But, frankly, the emerging church has been just as shaped by the Hauerwas/Anabaptist model of church-as-culture. Newbigin and Hauerwas do not, on the surface, appear all that compatible, but if you swirl them together you can account for an awful lot of the missional/emerging church emphases.

And here is McKnight's comment:


I agree with Keller: the missional emergent foci are only tangentially Reformed. There is a radical low-churchness about emerging that cannot be accounted for with Reformed; and the trinitarian emphasis, depending upon whom one draws from, could be classically creedal, Eastern Orthodox (if the emphasis is thrown onto perichoresis as it is with Stan Grenz), or Reformed.

And the holistic emphasis, though one can find such in the Kuyperian line of thinking, seems to derive from a variety ofsources, not the least of which is liberation theology and the social justice emphases of Wallace, Sider, and the like.

Maybe I just haven't seen it, but I don't see that much emphasis on the sovereignty of God but more on the necessity of striving.
posted at 3:30 PM  
Comments (3)

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Careful now, emergent and missional are not interchangable terms. Emergent claim to be missional but there are missional folks who do not claim to be Emergent. Tim Keller for example.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger John said...


I appreciate your clarification, but I do not see how I confused the terms. In a matter of fact, neither I nor Andrew Jones used the term emergent at all. As I am sure you know, there are people who would call themselves emerging but not emergent.

Regardless, Jones is advocating what he calls the "emerging-missional church." The point of his post was to suggest Reformed roots in the missional emphasis of the emerging-missional church. I think Keller and McKnight correctly pointed out some flaws in Jones' position.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

actually, further research on my part with the word "missional" and the idea behind "missio dei" has led me to other great reformed missiologists and thinkers over the 20th century, including john mackay and robert speer.

i would not be too quick to throw out this idea.

is it so bad to find reformed fingerprints on our missiology?


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