Don’t emerge just yet: a postscript

Jerry, please indulge me but I think this needs to be heard and not buried in the comment section. I think the following insight is a wise and helpful reminder that “reaching out” through evangelism does not require a wholesale reappraisal to be effective. Thank you for your leadership and insight. He said:

“The “failures” in evangelism are glaring, yet, I think, misdiagnosed. The apparent ineffectiveness is almost always attributed to the lack of gospel fervor or soul-compassion. Emergents are quick to claim this because they equate their culture-friendly posture with true “outreach”. The very word “outreach”, however, demands not only taking the gospel “out” to the lost, but also offering what will actually “reach” them (Romans 1:16). Friendship along common pagan grounds will never reach anyone, and very often has the opposite result of corrupting the “evangelist”. Wayne Watson once wrote, “There’s a fine line between taking bed with a lost man, and being consumed by his way while reaching out in love…temptation’s right at your door…guard what you’re thinkin’ of, for it’s a fine line”.”

“Furthermore, no honest Christian would deny that evangelicalism is diseased in this regard, but are such maladies the cause or merely symptoms of a more insidious degeneration? Where does the wholesale lack of gospel fervor come from? Do Christians suddenly lose their compassion for lost souls? I believe the root-problem is deeper. Whenever the transcendence and supernatural power of the gospel is traded for any one of a number of man-centered manipulations the cancer is effectively injected into the bloodstream. Gospel-fervor cannot feed on the impotent scraps of finiteness, nor is compassion for the souls of men poured out where there is no fear of judgment. The church’s true sickness is her endless crafting and idolatrous worship of “new and improved gospels”! The call for reform is desperately needed, but we must use the scalpel of scripture alone if we’re ever to return to true gospel passion. Radical change is needed, but not the surface innovations and rearranging suggested by those whose gospel is already vacuous. We need churches that, with contrite heart, “tremble at His word” and beseech the Lord of the harvest to send workers bearing His fruit!”

7 responses to this post.

  1. Blog hopping and landed here. The title of your blog caught my attention. :-) Great work you have here!

  2. Welcome anytime.

  3. Paul,

    That was a great post-script! You reaffirmed what Jerry was saying very well. This has been a great series of posts and comments.


  4. Discernment over these issues is so critical. Even if Emergents point out fair weaknesses in the modern day Evangelical Church we have to make sure their solutions are biblical.

    So one can rightly point out a problem (i.e. Doctor something is really wrong with leg its been hurting me for years); and totally be wrong when it comes to the proper solution (Doc, i think you may need to amputate it).

    This is over simplistic but I think you get my point…

  5. Good thoughts, Caleb. It reminds a bit of today’s political arena. Casual critics abound, but there is little constructive criticism. When things are going poorly it’s easy to suggest what is wrong–most people are adept at pointign out the obvious. Much more difficult is the task of acurately diagnosing what is really wrong and then suggesting what might be done to correct the problem(s).

  6. Chris,

    You’re right! We pastors need to make sure we are offering solutions and not just simply exposing our churches weaknesses.

    A critical spirit is not inherently helpful. I am not saying the E.C. is guilty of this. I think they offer solutions that don’t really fix the problem or simply offer a pragmatic solution as Jerry suggested.


    I hope you did not have a PT 3 planned. If so, i apologize for posting on top of you. :)

  7. Caleb,

    Jerry is all done but I’m sure wew will hear more on this later.

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