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In The News
   
 
 

 

In The News

 
October 15 - Pastor Offers a Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
 
Article: Emerging Church
 
The traditional church and the emerging church can't seem to get along. They're often hostile to each other and denounce the other side in their writings and at conferences. But one insider to both sides has made the effort to listen to both positions without cherry picking arguments and bring some understanding to the debate. "I just felt like nobody was listening," Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, told The Christian Post.
Just as Calvinism cannot be defined solely by the unfortunate event of the burning of the heretic Servetus or by the claim that John Calvin was a theocrat, the emerging church cannot be narrowed to Brian McLaren or to the denial of truth and the traditional church cannot be solely linked to fundamentalism or sectarianism.

Belcher, 44, was part of the emerging church circle even before the term "emerging" was coined. In the late 1990s, he teamed up with Mark Oestreicher in ministry to launch an alternative service for Generation X; started up weekly conversations in Southern California with such young pastors as Rob Bell; and attended a Gen X conference where Mark Driscoll first started the buzz about postmodernism when many were still unfamiliar with the term.

It's not so much that he gave up on the emerging church and returned to the traditional route, but it was his attempt at finding "a third way," or what he calls "the deep church" Ė a phrase he borrowed from C.S. Lewis.

In his quest to find the third way, he was motivated to help heal the divisions in the church. And with a foot in both camps, Belcher was able to move beyond the assumptions and rhetorical shoutings and present both sides without any bias Ė at least judging from the feedback he's been getting.

He boiled down all their dissatisfaction with the traditional church to seven main categories of protest: captivity to Enlightenment rationalism; a narrow view of salvation; belief before belonging; uncontextualized worship; ineffective preaching; weak ecclesiology; and tribalism. After studying arguments from both sides, Belcher found that the emerging church is "thinking deeply about how postmodernism and the gospel of the kingdom are to interact, and how Christians can create and transform culture."

Deep church may not be the answer to reconciling the traditional and emerging camps, but he's hopeful that his book has at least broken down some of the distrust from each side. "They're not as threatened by each other," he said. "I think that's good for the church."

Belcher wants more than anything, unity in the church. "What Iím after is getting the church to be united around deep church or mere Christianity, as C.S. Lewis said first, so that we can work together and move into mission and really present a unified front to a watching world instead of one thatís always arguing and complaining," he said. "Why would someone out there want to join a family thatís always arguing?"

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