By Jason Hall
Three Southeastern professors have contributed to a recent book examining the emerging/emergent church movement that is generating discussion throughout North American evangelicalism.
Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement is published by B & H and edited by William Henard and Adam Greenway. It is a collection of essays on its subject, including contributions by Southeastern President Daniel Akin; professor of theology John Hammett; and visiting professor of missiology Ed Stetzer.
Akin contributed a chapter entitled “The Emerging Church and Ethical Choices: The Corinthian Matrix.” In it he addresses concerns that many have about emerging church pastors’ attitudes toward traditionally prominent moral issues like abortion and homosexuality as well as what he notes as a somewhat more relaxed view of discussion over issues like alcohol consumption and sexuality.
Akin engages the discussion from the perspective of 1 Cor. 6:12-13:13, laying out what he calls Pauline principles “that would enable (pastors) to engage the culture with integrity while staying true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Hammett makes a theological contribution to the book with his chapter, “The Church According to Emergent/Emerging Church.” In it he examines the ecclesiology of those within the movement, acknowledging that many in the movement see ecclesiology as their primary concern.
He notes that since the emerging/emergent movement is not a monolithic one, it is difficult to pin down particular principles or ideals that pertain across the spectrum of thought. Nevertheless, Hammett does discern a few concerns common to a broad swath of the movement, including church as community, missional orientation and experiential worship, while noting a lack of consensus as to the shape of biblical leadership in the church.
Stetzer, whose work in the emerging/emergent church movement predates that of most any Southern Baptist, contributes “The Emergent/Emerging Church: A Missiological Perspective.” In it he traces at length and in great detail the foundational events and figures of the emerging/emergent church movement in mainly North America. He gives markers for identifying features and changes in the movement, and also gives helpful categories for understanding the divergence in doctrine and practice that now mark the movement.
The book is now available in bookstores and online. J.D. Greear, a Southeastern alumnus and adjunct faculty member who pastors The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., said of the book, “Evangelicals Engaging Emergent is a great tool for constructing a faithful, and effective, ministry to the next generation.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.