A New Kind of Christian and The Emergent Movement

I’ve been reading Brian McClaren’s A New Kind of Christian, and once again I am struck by how similar the thinking of the Emergent movement and the Hebraic Roots revival are.  Of course, they use different terminology, but when Hebraic folks talk about thinking Hebraically and Emergent folks talk about thinking in a pre-modern or post-modern way…they are largely referring to the same thing.

Of course for the Hebraic Roots Movement this has been a confusing conversation anyway because to a large degree post-Philo the rabbis stopped thinking in block logic and began to use Platonic and Aristotelian categories, subjecting everything to Hellenic analysis.

There is still much of the ancient manner of thinking apparent in Hebraic thought, but we would do well to realize that post-Temple Jewish thought and biblical thought are often at odds.

There is nothing wrong with analysis, of course, but if it becomes exalted so much that it becomes synonymous with “thinking” or even worse with “meditation”, we are in big trouble, and indeed, this precisely what has happened.

As I’ve said before the Emergent Movement is asking a lot of the right questions.  They’re not always coming up with answers I like, but then who is coming up with all the right answers?

I’ve started McClaren’s book twice before, but this is the first time that I made it past the Introduction.  Which in and of itself is interesting because I’ve found the book absolutely fascinating.  McClaren’s characters are giving eloquent words to thoughts and sentiments I’ve been struggling to express since high school.  Anyway, what I was starting to say is that I’ve been fascinated to discover how much C.S. Lewis’ writings have influenced McClaren.  It’s sort of a comforting thing, because Lewis is an old, familiar friend, while McClaren is known as a sort of radical, so I often find myself reading the same paragraphs a couple times, because you realize that you just read a phenomenal observation, but you almost missed it because you had all your “heresy-antennae” up and quivering.

He keeps broaching subjects that get my heart pumping before I’ve even read what he is going to say, but then I read on and discover something that sounds like soapboxes of mine, only better phrased.  I keep waiting to see if I’ll consider the book “safe” to suggest to my mom.  I’m on page 129 of 165 and so far, I plan to recommend it to her.  I think it may help her understand me a lot better.  Don’t let me down now, McClaren!  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop…

It will be interesting to see what the reaction of Emergent and Hebraic Roots will be to one another.  Particularly since I plan to begin pointing out the similarities and also where some of the truth that has been revealed to each respectively will help the other to maintain a positive trajectory and not end up repeating the same old mistakes of the past.

The thing is that God has continually revealed more and more truth in successive generations, but the human tendency is to appreciate the new-found nuggets so much that we begin to act like our slice of pie is the whole dessert.  And that is some of the blessing of serving an infinite God; we will never exhaust the depths of His character, which is the same thing as saying we will never plumb the depths of truth.  If I had to guess, I would speculate that we will continue to embrace truth for all of eternity, ever delighted in the never-ending facets of God.


Now Playing: Zach Jones – FUSE – Psalm 103

5 thoughts on “A New Kind of Christian and The Emergent Movement

  1. “but you almost missed it because you had all your β€œheresy-antennae” up and quivering.”

    lol….that’s funny

  2. You might know this, since you’re a bookish kind of guy, that Mclaren has another book out now “The Secret Message of Jesus” I flipped through it and it looks really interesting.

  3. Yep, a friend of mine is reading it. I just bought the trilogy of books connected to A New Kind of Christian, so I want to read those first before I get his other one.

    I also want to check out his book A Generous Orthodoxy, but I have to admit, I’m actually really worried about whether I will like that one or not.

    By the way, I finished the book yesterday afternoon on the plane from Burbank to SFO, and it finishes well. He still gets me a little nervous when he talks about the plight of other religions (Ok, maybe a lot nervous), but his thinking about where the church needs to be hits the nail on the head.

  4. I’m so glad others see the connection between Hebraic thought and post-modern thought. I thought I might have been off my rocker.

    I think the Emergent movement is more aware of the Messianic movement than vice-versa.

    I’ll admit it, I read A Generous Orthodoxy and really liked most of it. There’s a few hokey things in it, but overall some good perspectives.

  5. LOL, yeah it’s not just you, Seth.

    Do you know of specific folks in the Emergent movement that are aware of the Messianic movement? Because I know quite a few that know of it only through me, or only just recently.

    Unfortunately, most of what the Emergent-oriented folks I know think about the Messianic movement has been shaped by extremists rather than mainstreamers from within Messianism.

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