Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Renowned Missiologist on Brian McLaren and Emergent
Paul Carden recently brought to my attention an important article on Brian McLaren and his Emergent cohorts by a renowned evangelical missiologist: David J. Hesselgrave, "Brian McLaren's Contextualization of the Gospel," Evangelical Missions Quarterly (January 2007): 92-100. The article can be read online by subscribing to EMQ. Hesselgrave contrasts McLaren's view of mission, believing, belonging, and becoming with the evangelical faith commitments of the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association (IFMA). It is well-worth the read! Here is the article's conclusion:

McLaren and his colleagues are convinced that the future of the Church and missions does not rest on the kind of faith articulated be modern churches and missions, including conservative ones. Rather, it rests on resisting "modernism" and accommodating postmodernism by recovering "the faith articulated by the common consensus of the ancient Church" as they conceive it. But if partially right on some counts, both he and they are profoundly wrong on others. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both liberals/modernists and conservatives/fundamentalists (and then evangelicals) attempted what can be thought of as "contextualizations" of the Christian gospel for modern (Western) culture. The former did it by accommodating traditional faith to modern culture. The latter did it by maintaining and restating biblical faith for modern culture.

McLaren and his colleagues are essentially right in concluding that both contextualizations were culturally-conditioned because all contextualizations are culturally-conditioned by definition. They are also partially right in concluding that the gospel preached in Eastern and other cultures was often quite "Western" and under-contextualized.

But they are profoundly wrong in following the lead of twentieth century liberals when they insist on accommodating postmodernism by resisting biblical authority and replacing the biblical gospel with another gospel of whatever derivation. The postmodernism of McLaren and the Emergent Church movement represents a radical over-contextualization and is destined to fail both the Church and missions in the twenty-first century just as surely as the modernism of Higher Criticism and the Social Gospel failed the Church and missions in the twentieth century. In the end, the biblical gospel--and only the biblical gospel--will prevail.


posted at 11:30 AM  
Comments (2)

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

I am glad Dr. Hesselgrave has written publicly on this issue. Thanks for pointing out this article.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Dan Paden said...

Discussing things with Emergents has been some of the most frustrating stuff I have ever done.

The worst instance I've ever had was where one of them suggested--at least I think he was suggesting--that my need to "know" things "absolutely" was something of a personal flaw on my part.

Sorry. Just venting. At this point, I almost twitch when I see that word.


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