This has never been so obvious as with the distinction between “Emerging” and “Emergent.” Driscoll has drawn a massive cultural distinction about a group that dislikes categorization between a difference of three letters and based apparently upon his say so.
The Emerging Church, say Driscoll’s followers, is the community of people that is asking about how to make the Gospel relevant to the next generation … while attempting to communicate the message of Christ in biblically faithful and culturally meaningful ways.
The Emergent Church, on the other hand, is a specific group of well-defined people who are part of the Emergent Village. They are hard to pin down doctrinally. Suffice to say, they are probably all a bunch of post-modern heretics. “So,” say the proud Driscollites, “I might be emerging but I am certainly not emergent.”
Well wait a sec… Who says?
You know I’ve got a book here written by Dan Kimball, a part of the Emergent Village, published by Zondervan’s label “Emergent YS” and called The Emerging Church wherein Kimball identifies himself as emergent and makes no distinction. So if Kimball says there’s no difference, and he’s the expert who (quite lieraily) “wrote the book” on the Emerging Church, Where did Driscoll get the idea there is such a clear difference?
Is he just being very picky about the dictionary’s definition of the words?
1. coming into view or notice; issuing.
Apparently Mr. Webster (7th Collegiate Edition) is just as confused as I am.
The truth of the matter is the fact that nobody wants to admit. There is no difference.
Worse than that, there’s no way to draw a difference. Right now, the culture of the world is just beginning to undergo some massive and unprecedented changes the likes of which have not been seen since the Enlightenment.
The church is responding to them with some equally important changes the likes of which have not been seen since the Reformation.
In the middle of the fray are a lot of big ideas, some of which are great, some of which are messy.
We don’t have any good way to sort the heretics from the heroes.
Emergent, Emerging, Postmodern, Post-Postmodern, Post-Evangelical, Relevant, Reconstructionist, Radical… They are all words for the same thing.
They describe the group of Christians that is trying to get a hold of this THING in the culture, whatever it is, and glorify God with it.
Why so many words?
Because everytime a new Christian author wants to talk about how the church needs to address the pressing needs of the next generation, they feel the need to clarify that they’re not one of those other [insert your favorite term here] heathens over there.
No, no, over here we’re [insert your other favorite term here]
Stop making up words.
It’s confusing people. The community you are describing is already confused enough by the shifting definitions. Just jump in the chaos with the rest of us and prepare to be in a league with radical thinkers.