Emerging Into What?

The postmodern, or “emerging” church movement is one that is unique enough to attact press coverage from time to time. After all, it is this uniqueness that supposedly attracts its followers. These groups pride themselves on looking as much unlike a traditional church as they can, an idea that stems from the notion that traditional methods of Christian worship are played out, and must be reevaluated for the postmodern culture.

One example of this “emergence” in a Raleigh, NC church is a retreat from a word-based faith:

“We think our generation learns by story and by image,” said Tyler Jones, the 29-year-old pastor. “If you give us a piece of paper to read, we’re less likely to remember that.”

The obvious problem with this line of thinking is that Christians have 66 books of the Bible to deal with, which unfortunately for Pastor Jones, doesn’t have any pictures in it. Here we find a clear example of a church that is capitulating to the culture rather than being a transforming presence in a hostile world. Even the element of worship commanded by Jesus are conformed to the culture:

Communion, or the ritual sharing of bread and wine, is likewise laid-back. At the end of the service, the pastor invites people to take Communion from a tray in the rear. On occasions when the church doesn’t have bread for Communion (all its baked goods are donated from local restaurants), it has used angel food cake.

When the Lord’s Supper is relegated to the status of hors d’oeuvre, something is definitely awry. Colleen Carol Campbell, writing in National Review, gets it right:

In a decadent culture, the demands of traditional morality appeal. In a sea of pluralism, the clarity of orthodoxy attracts. Religious leaders should keep that in mind when they are tempted to dilute their theology and soften its demands in order to reach more souls. To attract the postmodern pilgrim, it seems, holy boldness is a better choice.

1 thought on “Emerging Into What?”

  1. Wow. Angel food cake?

    On a basic level, I understand that the type of food that I’m eating during communion is not as important as my attitude is, but somehow the idea of simply dumbing it down, for lack of a better phrase, strikes me as abhorrent.

    As far as far as the “laid-back” atmosphere, that’s just downright silly. It’s not supposed to make you *comfortable.* The knowledge of what Christ has done for us should be enough to make any one of us uncomfortable, in light of the fact that none of us have done anything to deserve such mercy.

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