Emergent, an organization that positions itself as the mouthpiece of the Emerging Church Movement, is entering a dialogue and potential partnership with a like-minded group of young Jewish rabbis called Synagogue 3K. The focus will reportedly be on issues of social justice. In the words of Emergent director Tony Jones, they have been “pushing through the polarities of left and right in an effort to find a new, third way, we’ve been desperate to find partners for that quest.”
Now one can have an interesting discussion about when it is or isn’t appropriate to cooperate in shared goals with people who have other understandings of the Gospel (ie Roman Catholics) or people of other faiths (ie Jews). But that’s not my concern. Of larger significance is the language being bandied about by those involved in this discussion, language that makes it sound as if the Emergent leadership has sold out on the exclusivity of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ.
Brian McLaren, the godfather of the Emergent crowd, says,
“We have so much common ground on so many levels. We face similar problems in
the present, we have common hopes for the future, and we draw from
shared resources in our heritage. I’m thrilled with the possibility of
developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God’s dreams come
true for our synagogues, churches, and world.” (emphasis added)
What, exactly, is God’s dream for our synagogues? As I understand Scripture, God’s hope for them is that they would come to faith and trust in the Messiah. But somehow I don’t think that’s what McLaren has in mind.
Tony Jones: “It’s with great joy and promise that we partner with the
leaders of S3K to talk about the future and God’s Kingdom.”
It begs the question of what they think God’s kingdom to be. Again, I hope I’m wrong on this, but it doesn’t seem that they see the central importance of Christ’s lordship to the kingdom. A guy named Bob left a great comment on one participant’s blog that really makes the point well: “I do not believe that you can talk about building God’s Kingdom with those who actively reject God’s King.” Like I said – I hope I’m wrong and misunderstanding these articles. But the language is at best sloppy and vague and at worst belies a dangerous theological direction.
HT: Steve McCoy – who has a good take and resulting conversation on the subject.