Jim Belcher shares this with thousands of young Christians: “He lived it.” That is, he lived into dissatisfaction with traditional evangelicalism, experienced the allure of the emergent movement, but came away sensing that there is a Third Way with, between and beyond the traditional and the emergent. He has now published Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
. (The cover to this book is cool.) This book is the book we need because it is deeply aware of the emerging issues, of traditional evangelicalism, and yet it remains committed to a balanced theology. The breadth of the blurbs reveals that this book has tapped into a third way approach.
Many of us have lived this with Jim Belcher. What were the attractions of the emergent movement when you first learned about it? What did you see as its potential weaknesses? How viable is a “third way” for you? What will it look like?
Instead of seeing “Third Way” as a branding of clique, third way (and I agree with Belcher completely) may be the only hope for unity among evangelicals. “The evangelical church is deeply divided. Although evangelicalism has always been diverse, in recent years this fragmentation has threatened to pull the movement apart” (9).
Jim, while he embraces the core criticisms of the traditional evangelical and was connected with all the major players (the early Driscoll, Seay Pagitt, Jones, Kimball, Bell, McLaren) gives a few elements that he feared in the emergent stream:
first, he knew that age segregation impoverished both individuals and growth;
second, he was convinced we have to have roots to our faith — in history and theology;
third, he had concerns about worship in the Gen X (pre emergent) crowd which he saw as a “hipper version of the boomers’ seeker worship” (30);
and, fourth, he didn’t see enough gospel centeredness in the Gen X crowd.