Emerging Church and The Bible

As I have written before, I try to keep an eye on the “emerging church” conversation these days. It’s an interesting phenomenon bringing together, as it does, “post evangelicals” and “post liberals” into what they hope is a fresh expression of the historic faith. It is a very loose confederation and really does prefer to call itself a “conversation” rather than a “movement.”
While some of the leaders in this effort have been roundly criticised for questioning certain “settled principles” of (particularly) evangelical doctrine, they do not seem to me to be dismissive of orthodox Christian theology as much as they are trying to articulate it for younger people so heavily influenced by the “post modern” age.
Their attempt to link faith and social justice is not new to Episcopalians nor is their attempt to reclaim and re-appropriate certain ancient liturgical practices (like chant and icons and the liturgy of the hours, etc.). What we can perhaps learn from them is a confidence in the narrative power of scripture.
So many of our clergy  trained — as I was — in the very “modern” methods of biblical and historical and literary critical approaches to interpreting scripture seem to have lost confidence, not only in scripture’s reliability but its very authority. I was spared that by being formed by Reginald Fuller and Fred Borsch and C.K. Barrett and C.H. Dodd and Raymond Brown and others.
I have never ceased to pray with and preach from the Bible even while utilizing what I hope are the best tools of literary criticism to try and determine what the text was saying in its original context. But the Bible is Holy Scripture — for me and for so many of these “emergent” leaders.
Our Catechism puts it this way: We call the Holy Scriptures “the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 853). We need to reclaim and rediscover that confidence and if the “emerging church” can help us do that, more power to them!    

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