Emergent Folks: Reforming or Conforming?

In a new book, Reforming or Conforming?: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church, thirteen Reformed scholars, including Dr. Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary in California, take on postmodern evangelicals and provide a solid, biblical critique of their ideas.

While self-described “post-conservative evangelicals” enjoy increasing influence in the evangelical world, they represent a significant challenge to biblical faith. Popularizers like Brian McLaren (of Emergent Church fame) trade on the work of scholars like Stan Grenz, John Franke, and Roger Olson, whose “innovations” represent a major makeover of traditional and historic evangelical theology. This is especially the case with the doctrines of Scripture, the atonement, and the character of God.

In Reforming or Conforming?, scholars join editors Gary Johnson and Ron Gleason in analyzing and critiquing the ideas of those who promote postmodernism as a positive force in theology. Pastors, laymen, and college students will find this book a helpful resource in understanding and refuting postmodern evangelicalism. Foreword by David F. Wells.


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1 thought on “Emergent Folks: Reforming or Conforming?”

  1. I can’t say that postmodernism is entirely bad. I think that postmodernism has at least correctly shown us that we are very much the products of the cultural and intellectual trends of our time. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to look at any phenomena with an absolutely unbiased, objective and dispassionate point of view.

    I don’t know if I’m citing this example correctly, but didn’t postmodern thought play a role in devastating the so-called “Quest for the Historical Jesus” movement? The Historical Jesus scholars thought that they could be totally objective in finding out who the “real” Jesus was, but Schweitzer(?) demonstrated that this was far from the case. The Historical Jesus scholars were blind to their own prejudices and subjectivity; thus instead of discovering the real historical Jesus, they reconstructed a Christ made in their own skewed image.

    Now of course there are elements of postmodernism that clash with Christian thought and Scripture (postmodernism rejects absolute truth, for example).  But Christianity has proved to be very adaptable to the dominant intellectual trends of the time, whether they be Hellenism, Medieval philosophy, modernism or whatever else. All those trends left their mark on Christianity’s Jewish roots, and postmodernism probably will as well. As we are living in a postmodern time, postmodernism no doubt is already influencing Christians and Christian thought. I think the key is to retain what can be reconciled with Scripture and reject what cannot.

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