The Emerging Church, the New Perspective, & Evangelical Identity

Andrew Perriman wrote a few months ago about the convergence of the emerging church movement and the developments associated with the New Perspective on Paul.  He sees the effect of these as salutary for the future of evangelical identity.  I heartily agree.

It seems to me, in fact, that these resonate strongly with the evangelical impulse.  The evangelical spirit is always reforming how Christians articulate and practice the faith.  It is a prophetic movement, constantly challenging established thought and practice, goading fellow Christians toward greater faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.

Neither of these movements were offering a distinct or cohesive school of thought or mode of practice.  The emerging folks were calling evangelicals to re-evaluate forms of church life in light of mega-church developments.  And the New Perspective has shaken up New Testament studies so that people are reading the text with fresh eyes.

Genuine evangelicals ought to embrace the challenge to think creatively and purposefully about Christian thought and practice.  I think it’s a bit sad that so much conversation vis-à-vis these two movements has been reactionary, defensive, and negative rather that critically constructive and reflective.

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