Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Emerging Church set to swallow US Protestantism

That’s the claim (among many others) of Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, in a recent radio interview with Mike Corley on an American Christian radio show just the other day.

I got onto this because it was flagged up by one of the tools of the WordPress interface called Tag Surfer. Tag Surfer shows all the recent posts on WordPress that have been posted that also link with a specific tag – quite a handy little tool. Anyhoo, here’s the link that caught my eye, and so I followed it through.

You download the interview as an mp3 file, and the whole thing goes for about an hour, but you can skip through the first 15 mins, as that’s all just ads and welcomes and stuff. (It takes me about 45 mins to do my exercises, so I listened while doing them).

The interview itself is quite an astonishing attack on the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), with Pastor Silva making the explicit claim of the headline of this post, along with his branding ECM as ‘the new cult (yep, cult) of neo-Liberalism’. He gets into naming names, like Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Len Sweet and gives them all a hard time, while saying that he’s had ‘off-the-record interviews with the likes of Andrew Jones and Doug Pagitt among others. I got the impression that he’s not one of those hateful and vindictive types, rather, he’s full-on committed to what he believes and simply will not give an inch.

So he’s passionately against the rising of the Contemplative movement, which I assume would include the nu-monastic wave, and can’t stand anything that might smack of pre-Reformation style Christianity. And that’s the key really, Pastor Silva is a committed ‘modernist’ (he calls himself an empirical apologist). It seems he hasn’t understood the shift in history that has occurred since the demise of the age of modernity, hasn’t realised that the claim of inevitable progress through the rise of science and rational autonomy that was modernity’s story has failed to deliver a human race able to live at peace with itself (even though technologically we have all manner of marvellous stuff), refuses to acknowledge that the rise in the ECM is due precisely to a modernist church’s inability to deliver a relationship with God that is truly holistic and life-giving, and (I think) most importantly, doesn’t seem to understand the concept of contextual missiology that is a driving force behind ECM.

But strangely, Pastor Silva seems resigned to his prophecy that the ECM will swallow US Protestantism (by which I think he really means the Southern Baptist Convention).

For those not familiar with this kind of argument about the ECM, its worth a listen I reckon. As a counter to it, may I suggest you have look at Andrew Jones’s post here on what the ECM really is about.

And I’ve just noticed that this has been running for some time now, so have a look here for some further background.


January 5, 2007 - Posted by | contemplative, culture, emerging church, mission, religion

1 Comment »

  1. Unlike all you previous blogs, I could not understand this one at all!
    However that is to be expected. Like all of us you are a unique individual with unique attitudes and viewpoints and opinions and experiences, and life is too short for us even to begin to hope we may understand everything eventually.
    However, your blog inspired me however to investigate religion in Waltham Forest.

    The 2001 census included a question on religious beliefs. The question was voluntary, and 9% of the people of Waltham Forest did not respond, so I am going to classify those 9% as “Agnostic”, although I cannot totally justify that.
    “Atheist” and “Agnostic” are very “ugly” words, and much misunderstood by Christians, who often view atheists as people who do not believe in anything! I can assure all Christians that I as an atheist have many deeply held and passionate beliefs!

    However, the 225,000 people of Waltham Forest reported their religious beliefs in the 2001 census as follows:
    56.8% Christian
    15.4% No religion (Atheist?)
    15.1% Muslim
    9.0 % Not stated (Agnostic?)
    1.8% Hindu
    0.7% Jewish
    0.6% Sikh
    0.4% Buddhist
    0.4% Other

    But each person is a unique individual. How many of the people in Waltham Forest would proclaim to have an “awareness” and a “relationship” with a “presence” whom the may call Allah or Jehovah or God or Jesus …. or any of the other names used for what I am happy to call “Mystery”.

    Some of the 56.8% people of Waltham Forest who call themselves Christian will feel no need to belong to any organisation, or only a very local one. Others will identify with world wide groupings such as Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, Unitarians, Eastern Orthodox, the various Pentecostal movements etc. etc. etc. (I apologise to all those groupings I have missed!)

    I do not like using the word “knowledge” as what we feel we “know” is quite often “not totally true”. However, Tony, you certainly have immensely more “knowledge” of what is called the Christian “Church” than I do.
    However, is there actually a Christian “Church” existing in Waltham Forest, with all this diversity in belief and practise.

    I understand there is a week of prayer for Christian unity beginning on 18 January. However, I am not enthusiastic about the idea of Human Unity if it means Uniformity. Christianity seems to be more deeply divided than any of the other world religions, but I feel we should welcome this diversity in belief and practise – we are all unique individuals.
    I rejoice in a multi-cultural Walthamstow. I assume the forthcoming week of prayer for Christian Unity will be a time for all Waltham Forest Christians to meet, and rejoice in their diversity.
    However, your article did not indicate there was a lot of rejoicing within certain sections of the Christian “Church”

    LIVE – Feel Connected (sometimes) – Be Joyful (sometimes)

    Comment by Lawrence Woods | January 11, 2007 | Reply

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