What is “Emergianity”?
Before we can know how to deal with Emergianity, we need to define Emergianity. In a word, Emergianity is what is commonly called “the Emergent Church Movement.” Since the Emergent Church Movement is neither a church nor a Christian movement, at least in any Biblical sense, I feel like I have a moral responsibility to not call it a church or Christian movement. Emergianity, then, is a portmanteau of the words Emergent and Christianity. Of course, adherents of the Emergent religion wouldn’t like my categorizing them, but this is necessary. Refusing to be defined – when one is easily definable – is a great way to avoid responsibility before God for what one truly believes, teaches, and wants others to believe as well. There are differences in the Emergent religion; however, there are certain fundamental, underlying beliefs that are shared by them all. Let’s look at these.
1. Everything Must be Subverted
Well….everything but the idea that everything must be subverted. In other words, there are always questions to be asked that will, inevitably, contradict Orthodox Christian beliefs. For the Emergent, everything is re-definable, subject to new interpretation, “open for conversation.” This may seem like an unassailable hermeneutic, until you apply it to itself. What results is a contradiction that completely invalidates their hermeneutic, for if everything is open-ended and by its nature incapable of closure then either (a.)this hermeneutical principle itself is closed and incapable of ever being open-ended (i.e. you can never question its validity) or (b.)this hermeneutical principle is open-ended and, therefore, open to being replaced by another that produces doctrinal closure.
2. Every Belief Must Be Questioned
Well…everything but this fundamental belief. No good Emergent will question whether or not this belief must be questioned; he simply believes that every [orthodox] belief must be questioned. And it is his goal to convince you that his belief [that every orthodox belief must be questioned] is correct. The problem is that this also reduces to a level of absurdity that even the Emergents do not want to come to have to face, because if you question whether or not every belief must be questioned, then you begin to dismantle the very foundation of their anti-Christian movement. Doing so would expose them as having very firm and fixed beliefs that they are unwilling to question or “have a conversation about.”
3. No Two Emergents are the Same
Except, of course, with respect to points 1., 2., and 3. What unites Emergianity is not an explicit set of fundamental beliefs, but an implicit set of fundamental beliefs. Points 1., 2., and 3. are shared by all those who adhere to Emergianity. And this, of course, is an absurd belief, because if “No two emergents are the same,” then they are at least the same with respect to being different from one another. This might seem like I’m just playing with words here, but hear me out. If all emergents are essentially different, then they all share this essential trait. The Emergent, then, has a core conception of himself that is universally applicable to all others, making them essentially the same. We need to work this out a little more in order to show what they truly believe. Essentially, if all Emergents are different this means that there is a further reason as to why they are different.
4. God Cannot Be Placed Inside of a Box
Except for this one, that is…Noticing a pattern yet? This fundamental belief is, again, absurd, for if its true then it is false. Here’s what I mean: If God cannot be placed inside of a box, then He cannot in any way be limited by human conceptions of what He is like, what He is capable of doing, or whether or not He can adequately reveal Himself to humanity, then He is limited by our human conceptions of what He is like what He is capable of doing, and whether or not He can adequately reveal Himself to humanity. After all, Emergents know that God cannot be placed inside of a box….right?
Deconstructing Emergianity’s Fundamental Beliefs
There are more fundamental beliefs common to all Emergents, I’m sure, but I’ll let you look for them. Before you do that, though, we need to deconstruct the beliefs that we have already listed. How do we do this? By showing how these beliefs contradict one another. For instance, take points 1. and 4. If everything must be subverted, then this would include the belief that God cannot be placed inside of a box. This would mean that God would have to be placed in a box, and if He is placed in a box, then we cannot subvert anything, for He would immediately regain the Sovereignty Emergents have tried so desperately to eradicate from His infinitely holy nature.
Another way we can demonstrate this is by comparing points 2. and 4. If Every belief must be questioned, then the belief that No two emergents are the same must also be questioned. And if this belief is questioned, then any historic orthodox Christian can claim that adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith or the London Baptist 1689 Confession of Faith, for him, define what it means to be Emergent. And if this is the case, then anyone who does not hold to these confessions are outside of the pale of what it means to be Emergent.
The possibilities are endless! Individually, the fundamental beliefs of all emergents completely fall apart; and taken in conjunction with one another, the fundamental beliefs of all emergents completely fall apart. So if the Emergents don’t realize this, it’s your apologetic duty to show them. An effective way to do this, I think, is to apply their beliefs to their beliefs. Once you have done this, they will cling to their beliefs and expose themselves for what they are: Rebels against the very image of God that resides in them, who are incapable of breaking the shackles that the moral Law has placed upon them – no matter how hard they may try.
[Continued in Part 2]