the most recent edition of next-wave features an excellent review of Jesus of Suburbia by dustin bagby and an intriguing article entitled dear emergents by indiana wesleyan professor keith drury. in the latter article professor drury commends the emergent church for its missional orientation, abiding idealism and mystical theology. however, he also offers two words of caution as well.
since the second caution effectively summarizes one of my own deepest concerns about emergent i'm posting it in hopes that you will read and respond.
Keep the church. You are going to be tempted to abandon the church and go off into solitary spirituality. Your crushed idealism may cause you to give up on the assembled people of God and our culture’s individualism will entice you toward your iPod rather than worship on Sunday mornings. There will be voices recruiting you to leave the church—reversing the notion of “called out ones” to being called out of the church to an individualized privatized spirituality. I pray you will not listen to these temptations. Be wary of any who claim to “love Jesus but despise the church.” Refuse to walk away from the assembly of believers into a privatized self-centered spirituality. If you are practicing privatized faith on your own apart from the assembly you are not being a Christian at all—you merely practicing spiritual masturbation. There is no such thing as a solitary Christian any more than a solitary marriage. Christians come in clusters. I hope you emergents will reinvent all kinds of new ways for the church to be the church, but none of them should include a church-less Christianity. For a church-less Christianity is essentially a Christ-less Christianity and thus not Christian at all. To be prepared for this temptation read Bonhoeffer.
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