listening to the beliefs of emerging churches: five perspectives, robert webber, gen. ed.
i read this book a few weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it. but i haven’t had enough time to write the post i really want to post: something wonderful and beautiful and worthy of this great book. but now i’m leaving the country, and i’m trying to get a few posts ready to go live while i’m disconnected. and i don’t want to wait to recommend this book any longer. so, scrap the wonderful and beautiful post. let’s go with this:
this is a freakin’ fantastic book. really, one of the best books i’ve read on the emerging church. personally, i LOVE multi-author books like this. i know, as a publisher, that they don’t tend to sell as well. but i love the dialogue and tension and questions. i find, most often in my life, that i discover truth in the tension between two semi-opposing opinions or ideas. which means, a book like this rocks my world.
mark driscoll’s chapter ticked me off. i didn’t think it belonged in the book. it wasn’t even apples to oranges with the rest of the book; it was apples to… i don’t know… like, dachsunds. something completely and utterly “other.” i actually got a bit frustrated with the dev editor, that they allowed him to do that. HOWEVER, i really thought it was worthwhile to have mark’s responses to the other chapters, as well as the other authors’ responses to mark. so… i guess it’s one of those “you have to eat your brussel sprouts” things (although i like brussel sprouts, and did even as a kid, so that analogy doesn’t quite work).
when i picked up the book, i was thinking that john burke, the pastor of gateway church in austin, tx, wouldn’t really fit under the umbrella that is the emerging church. and he even asks that question in the beginning of his chapter. but i thought john’s contributions to the book were great. he and gateway do belong here.
kimball is pure kimball: bridgebuilder, lover, grace-giver, friend, passionate about finding common ground, evangelist, evangelical. he’s the gracious glue that oozes between all the pages and holds all the bits and baubles of this book together. and, i see dan starting to get a little bit more of a backbone in stating what he doesn’t agree with.
pagitt is pure pagitt: cranky, brilliant, ascerbic, pointed, thoughtful, paradigm-busting, reshaping, compelling. did i say brilliant? actually, doug’s on really good behavior in the responses. but certainly, having doug and driscoll in this book is what makes it dicey and fun to read, a bit voyeuristic even. without doug and driscoll as part of this book, it would likely have been too nice, and slipped into b o r i n g.
karen is pure karen: artsy, creative, poetic, communal, living what she preaches. karen is clearly the most “other” in this book. but her presence, her voice, her church, and her thoughts, add an indispensible element to what works in this book (really, when i was working to develop “the church in emerging culture: five perspectives”, frederica matthewes-green ended up in this unoffical role, being a gadfly to all the otherwise evangelical and male/logical speak in the book. karen cuts cross-current like that).
this book adds a level of depth and understanding to the emerging church discussion. any idiot who, in the days and weeks and years to come, tries to publish a book that says, “the emerging church believes this….” in one dismissive broad brushstroke (like carson did), will clearly be misguided thanks to this book.
oh, geez, i just re-read this post, and realized i didn’t even mention robert webber, the general editor. his contribution to the book is fantastic: a framing (and naming) of each perspective. really brilliant stuff. almost as brilliant as when webber would walk across the front row of desks in the lecture hall at wheaton college, when i had him as a prof, just to keep our attention.