One reader responds to David Mills’ The Emergents and the Evangelicals:
Although I do not presume to be an “expert” on the Emergent movement (how would one go about procuring such an expertise?), I’ve yet to encounter anything written by or about Emergentists that rises to the level of comprehensibility. This is partly, I think, due to a concerted effort on the part of Emergentists to remain incomprehensible—a vice that is usefully mistaken for the virtues of depth and mystery. More importantly, however, it strikes me that the Emergent movement is attempting the metaphysically impossible: to bring something out of nothing.
As a Gen-X’er, I empathize with the search for an authentic Christian spirituality—one that transcends the vapidity of Baby-boomer evangelicalism. Yet thus far, I see no philosophical grounds for believing that the Emergent church movement represents the way out. This is because there are points at which one will never get out by going forward (as the name “Emergent” suggests). There are points at which one must, as Vizzini told Inigo in The Princess Bride, “go back to the beginning.” And the post-modern point in which we live today and from which the Emergent church is purportedly “emerging” represents just such a point. One cannot move forward (emerge) when there is nothing there from which to move.
Justin D. Barnard
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair
Department of Humanities