Friday, January 23, 2009


I am currently reading a book called Why We're not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. While I don't consider myself to be anti-Emergent (or Emergent for that matter), I thought it wise to examine this perspective as quite a bit of the media I take in is from people that could be considered to be a part of the “Emergent” movement. I have come across many excellent points in this book so far (though I think the book should have been titled Why We ARE Evangelical) but one point I came across really stood out to me.

DeYoung at one point is arguing against the Emergent church's portrayal of truth to be unstable as he feels they are constantly questioning doctrine and other foundational Christian truths. I believe the term he used to describe their version of truth was “squishy”. While I'm not sure if I agree with his point, he went on to say something that struck me as deeply profound. He explained that without strong convictions about who God is we are unable to submit fully to him.

We are unable to fully submit to something that we don't believe in.

Submission is a bad word in our culture. It has been abused time and time again in order for one person to gain power over another. Scripture about submission has been referenced in order to justify heinous acts against humanity. We need to be clear that when one person says to another “You must submit to me” that this is not submission. This is oppression. Let us no longer confuse the two: Submission is voluntary, oppression is not.

What would it look like to fully submit to God? What would it look like for Christ's bride (the Church) to fully submit to her spouse? What would it look like for us to submit to one another in such a way that we would put other's needs at the level of our own?

I don't think the answer to the problems we are facing as a church are going to be solved with a new movement or and old movement, but a unified submission to the will of God. I mean, that's what Jesus was all about right?


Steven Schallert said...

I stand beside you when you say that there is a difference between oppression and submission. In knowing so, I willing submit to Jesus as the Christ yet resist (because of Christ) the oppression of a culture (Christian and Non-Christian alike ) that are calling for "submission" (by which they mean obedience to power).

I resonate strongly with the authors statement on the inability to fully submit to God when "belief" is constantly in question. I myself during my years of rebellion against the "Church", and even more so in the birthing years of my theological study, lost any solid belief while questioning everything under the sun (or perhaps son). Yet there is a difference between a search for truth & ignorantly believing in something church doctrine, history, or culture deems appropriate. In actuality I believe that the Gospel of Jesus is truly such "good news" that with every glimpse of reality I find (primarily outside of western orthodoxy and often in blatant contrast to it) I can't help but submit even more holistically to it! I think this is true because the real call of Christ is far more life altering and controversial than any evangelical or emergent camps would be willing to claim after all.

But anyway, I really don't like the term "emergent church" simply because it implies something very new. As if their doctrine (or rejection of it in many cases) is in anyway somehow new. We very often forget that throughout all of Church History there has always been a people honestly seeking truth and far beyond seeking, living the Way. The Desert Fathers and Mothers, The Benedictine Movement, Franciscans & Clairs, Anabaptists...they have all through our 2000 year history come to realize as Bonhoeffer so often and eloquently put it -
"When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die."

anthony timlin said...


I think the "submission" (which is a call for obedience) is still a form of oppression. In fact I would go as far to say that even if we willingly submit to anything or anyone other than Christ first and foremost we are going to be subject to opression or bondage by whatever it is that we are submitting to. I mean, if we submit to Christ then everything else falls into place. Under Christ's authority I want to submit to my wife and I want to love my neighbor as myself. So uh, yeah I agree with you ha.

I also totally agree with your point about searching for truth versus ignorantly believing in something. I think at somepoint everyone needs to search out truth for themselves rather than simply being told what to believe. I don't think this process should ever end. I think we should always be exmaining and reexamining our beliefs and how they play out in our lives.

However, I think if this process carried out with core truths it can be crippling (which is what I think the authors of this book were getting at). You and I both know this, it seems that we have been through similar struggles. If we don't know what to pledge our allegience to we end up wasting it on something that will never satisfy us.

The thing is I have never actually experienced anyone that professes to be a Christian questioning what I believe to be core truths. I believe in God and I believe Jesus is who he claimed to be. I have never heard/read any "emergent" pastors/authors really question something foundational. There have been hypotheticals (Rob Bell's question of what if Jesus had a father in Velvet Elvis), but no real questioning or removal of foundational truths.

I don't care about emergent or evangelical. I don't answer to movements, I pledge allegience to the one true living God. I'm sure the Apostles, St Francis, Luther, Mother Teresa, Bonhoeffer, ect all could have cared less about some movement. They submitted to Jesus. They understood what it was to be a disciple. Christ called them and they died.

The thing is engaging the real issues at hand are difficult, insanely difficuly, and it is way easier to sit around and talk about whose movement is more right so we don't have to think about all of the we should be doing like caring for the orphan and the widow and feeding the hungry.

I know I'm ust preaching to the choir though. Thanks for replying to my post.

PS I am just finishing Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff.

Dude did you watch the Goonies or something?

Grace@ MammaInTheScene said...

Hey this is JOSH!

ANthony, I will be reading your blog more in the future. We just taught on submission to Christ--great stuff man! My blog coming soon!!!