The Emerging Church Promise and Failure Part 2

In my last post, I looked at how the emerging church movement is trying to re-construct Christianity in regards to praxis, or the living of a Christian life. Today I’m going to look at the emerging church’s approach to doxology.

Part 2: Doxology or “Doing” Church”

To start, I want to acknowledge that I’m using the word “Doxology” in an unorthodox way. Technically doxology refers to a statement of praise and glory to God. The two we are most familiar with are “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen” and the commonly sung:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

For my purposes, I am using the word doxology in the sense which Geoffrey Wainwright expresses it in the title to his 1978 book: Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life. Doxology is how we live out our theological belief in Christianity when we gather and worship, pray and meditate and then take that experience out into the world we live in. J.I. Packer in his book God Has Spoken (which I haven’t actually read, for the record) puts it this way:

“Theology, as I constantly tell my students, is for doxology: the first thing to do with it is to turn it into praise and thus honor the God who is its subject, the God in whose presence and by whose help it was worked out. Paul’s summons to sing and make music in one’s heart to the Lord is a word for theologians no less than for other people (Ephesians 5:19). Theologies that cannot be sung (or prayed for that matter) are certainly wrong at a deep level, and such theologies leave me, in both senses, cold: cold-hearted and uninterested.”

So for this discussion I am using the word doxology to indicate those ways that we as Christians practice our faith when we worship, gather together for church, meditate, read scripture or engage in other spiritual disciplines.

One of the features of Protestantism is that it is reactionary in nature. Continue reading

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Emerging Church – Promise and Failure Part 1

Over the last couple of months, I have been looking into something called the “Emerging Church” movement. This movement seems to be seeking to reform the evangelical church in light of the failures of the evangelical movement to bear transformational fruit in the lives of individuals and the larger community.

There are things that are happening, being talked about and experimented with in the Emerging Church movement which I think are very, very good for the church body as a whole. I can easily see a time when the work and ideas germinating today in the Emerging Church movement will become extremely influential in Christianity. However, I am also concerned that ultimately, they are setting themselves up for failure. Their influence, it seems to me, may end up being one of style rather than the radical transformation of the Christian life and church which they seek and which the gospel exhorts us too.

Before I get to what I think are the seeds of their failure, I want to discuss what I think they are getting right. The Emerging Church movement tends to be focused on two areas: praxis and doxology. Praxis being how we live as Christians. Doxology being concerned with how we “do” church through our services, prayers and other communal activities. In Evangelism attention to these two areas of Christianity has tended to be thin gruel. Praxis meant don’t sin and doxology meant sing, listen to a sermon and pass out grape juice and bad bread once a month. As the black sheep offspring of the Evangelical movement, Emerging Churchers are taking these areas apart and trying to completely reconstruct them into gourmet meals using both experimentation and borrowing from ancient wisdoms.

I am going to do a three part series on what I think the Emerging Church movement has to teach us as Christians, what I think the seeds of their undoing are and a new vision which could turn the Emerging Church movement into the transformational power I think the church needs today.

In Part 1 I will cover praxis. Part 2 will be on doxology and Part 3 will cover the flaw and new vision I have spoken of above.

Part 1: Praxis or Christian Living

In my experience I think it’s fair to say that conventional evangelism presents praxis as a series of rules for personal morality which we should be motivated to follow out of loyalty to God. Continue reading