I finally figured this out the other day. You may or may not be aware of this thing called the Emergent Church. It’s a movement within Evangelical Christianity, and your opinion of it may vary depending on what you know and what your background is. Some of the main proponents of Emergentism are Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and N.T. Wright. You may also have heard of the book The Truth War by John MacArthur in which he blasts the whole movement as an attack on the doctrinal foundation of the church. I don’t know where you stand on this, but here’s my take on what the Emergent church is.
The Emergent church is at its core a conversation about what the church is (how it operates, what it looks like, how it communicates) in a post-modern world.
So the question is, why is everything they are saying so liberal? The first response I give to that is that liberal can be a pejorative term. Often what is seen as odd by conservatives will be labeled such so as to make it seem immediately undesirable to other conservatives. At any rate here’s my answer:
The Emergent church is so liberal because the conservatives have already made up their mind what the outcome is going to be, and have reacted so negatively to the contributions that have already been made to the discussion, and in some cases are revolting against the fact that there’s a discussion at all, such that they are not participating in the conversation, and there are therefore no conservative voices to temper what is otherwise a somewhat liberal group think.
I don’t mean to use liberal in the pejorative sense here, so please don’t take it that way. But I do think that if we had conservatives engaging in the discussion and saying, “Ok, Rob Bell, that’s an interesting observation or criticism. Let’s remember thought that the Scriptures are our foundation for truth.” Then the outcome of this conversation will probably be a lot more like what needs to come out – an actual good response to the question that does not compromise the churches historical and doctrinal heritage, but does find ways to communicate and display those heritages such that the world around us correctly perceives the message.
I’m not worried about being politically correct, and I’m only mildly concerned with cultural relevance. What I am concerned with is that when we preach the Gospel, what the audience (the World) interprets is the Gospel and not something else, because we’re speaking the wrong language – either with our tongues or our hands.