I have stated in the past, and will continue to argue that the emergent church movement (and whatever forms it takes on now) is, well, silly. And by silly, I mean without any real grounding in substantive reflection or biblical work. Most emergent types have a passion to reach a world without Christ, and that is obviously a good thing. But they tend to hitch their stars to orbit-less asteroids. Emergent would rather ask questions and deconstruct than be so intolerant and reactionary as to provide an answer or two to very straight-forward questions or issues.
The latest case in point is a pair of blog posts at Christianity Today’s Out of Ur. The first is by a leading emergent pastor, Dan Kimball, who admits he was wrong in the past about church buildings. He used to think them out of date and a relic of Christendom, and now (surprisingly he now has a healthy church meeting in a building), he sees their value. I’m glad Kimball has leveled off a bit about church buildings – clearly lots of good churches do a lot of good, God-honoring things with buildings.
But we can’t leave it there.
Ken Eastburn, a house church movement leader (one of the latest evolutions of the emergent movement), wrote back. Though Eastburn respects Kimball, he corrects several points Kimball made in favor of house churches. Very heady stuff indeed.
The result? A really silly and totally unnecessary exchange. A mouse masquerading as an elephant. A conversation that has a simple and obvious solution, but which will not reach said solution given the starting points of the emergent mind.
The root problem in this little debate is that a lot of the emergent movement and its off-shoots haven’t bothered to ground themselves theologically or philosophically. By their very DNA, they would rather not. So, as a result, we get tempest in teapots about the relative merits of church buildings and house churches, with each claiming their pitcher’s mound as the high ground.