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Emergent Emergency.


I think I may have heard my very first postmodern/emergent style ‘sermon’. I have to confess that I didn’t elect to hear one, in other words I didn’t go to a emergent conference or meeting, or whatever passes for a meeting in those circles. I was at a family occasion of sorts, and someone had invited a ‘church leader’ along to speak. Let me explain a little about the actual sermon, and someone can perhaps tell me if what I was listening too was truly ’emergent’.

Two scriptures were read, both from Paul’s epistles, and both on the subject of love. They weren’t read by the speaker, but by someone else. When the readings were over, the speaker made his way to a microphone, and began to address the gathering, in a fairly conversational style, – no rhetoric or ‘preachiness’, or outward enthusiasm, but with a good measure of humour.

He didn’t make any attempt whatsoever to exegete the texts that had been read, In fact he largely ignored them. Instead he began to tell us about his ‘faith journey‘ – which, he declared would be totally different from everyone else’s faith journey. It seemed to fall into three general ‘points’ –

He remembered his college days, when he had thought that there might be a God, somewhere. But he had only vague knowledge of whatever God was. He illustrated this, by telling a fictitious story about a man of whom we had heard only snippets of information, and on that basis had formed an opinion of him. This was, he said, how he thought about God.

He remembered reading, under the guidance of a friend, some passages from Romans, from which he learned that the reason he knew so little about God, was that we are estranged from him, by our own ‘lack of understanding.’

He finally realised that God wanted to have a ‘love relationship’ with him. This excited him and he began his walk with God.

At that point the reader returned to read another portion from Romans, which again was not further commented on. He finished with a prayer.

At no point in the ‘sermon’ which lasted around twenty minutes, (a lot of that time was filled with various gulps, ums, ahhs, and sips of water.) did he mention sin, Jesus, the cross, atonement, repentance or forgiveness. Basically he spent the time speaking about himself, and his somewhat nebulous ‘experience of God’.

So, was I listening to a postmodern, emergent church talk? I certainly wasn’t hearing anything that approximated a Christ centred Gospel message of forgiveness and pardon for sin, purchased by Christ’s atoning death on the cross for sinners.

  1. Did the preacher wear skinny jeans and had coke bottle glasses?
    All kidding aside, whatever it is…it isn’t the Gospel! Sad.

  2. Janet Clarke permalink

    Robert, you were listening to the pure, unadulterated gospel! I think you need to get saved and see the light!!

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