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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers (12 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802458343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802458346
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Gilmore on 4 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
This book, as the title suggests, is written by a couple of guys who are from the sort of background where they've come into contact with the emergent church - and they explain not only why they are not emergent but also why they believe emergent thinking to be potentially dangerous to the gospel.

The authors take it in turns to speak, with authorship of chapters alternating between them. This gives two very different styles and 'takes', which is quite refreshing - DeYoung is a pastor and his chapters are more theological; Kluck is a journalist and writes more from his own experiences. The book never goes particularly deep, so although there are chapters of theological 'stuff', it's not overly hard to understand.

The book doesn't spend too much time examining what the emerging church is - as it explains, it's difficult to pin that down and even the leaders of the movement have resisted doing so. Instead, the authors generally take quotes from emergent literature and discuss the strengths and flaws that they see in it.

I've never read most of the books they talk about (e.g. Velvet Elvis, Blue Like Jazz etc.), so I can't say whether it's a fair representation of what those say or not, but a lot of what they mentioned as the potential failings of the movement did strike a chord with me as I thought about friends who would describe themselves as emergent. I do think that to get a balanced viewpoint, it would be a good idea to read some emergent-type writing, but this is definitely a useful introduction to the more questionable aspects of some of what the movement has produced.

One thing I didn't like so much about the book (and why I gave it 4 stars and not 5 - would've given 4.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By leps on 13 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck dont like "emergents". In an introductory caveat they reassure us they dont see emergents as the "bad guys" but the other 252 pages could have you fooled. The book is an exhaustive answer to the question "what irritates us about the emergent church?". We discover that emergents are lazy on doctrine and weak on tough issues. They've abandoned offering answers and keep asking more questions. They use annoying new jargon. They see the rest of us as exclusivist and worse still outdated. They try to make church feel mystical with candles and projected images on the walls. They are often leftists. Worst of all you dont know who is in charge and therefore who to blame for how annoying the emergent church is.

Although I think they often misunderstand what emergent writers are saying the authors do raise some important questions about the emergent church. Unfortunately the lack of grace in its pages may deter most emergent thinking people from getting through them. For many it will read as, well, annoying.

The authors have taken the lazy option. They offer a polarised grumble without considering any positives. But more importantly they fail to empathise with a whole generation of young followers of Jesus who are questioning much of what evangelicalism has done with him- intellectually, religiously and politically. Emergents are asking good questions, potentially reforming questions. I'd suggest that rather than scorning the questions the authors would do better to listen to them.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tony on 11 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
A superbly written and engaging review of the emergent movement and what it may or may not stand for. This is a must for all Christians, especially those who sit under an emergent ministry but also those who revere the Bible as God's revelation of Himself and who are driven nuts by the emergent capitulation to post-modernism's lack of absolutes and pluralistic obsession.
Very easy to read and not too theologically complex. The authors graciously and often amusingly take emergent leaders to task showing they cannot continue to justify their supposed position of humility of lack of understanding but ought to accept that they too need a theological framework that is Biblically based.
Highly recommended!
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jon Mason on 8 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback
A brilliant critique of the emergent church movement. The "two guys" show how the emergent movement is desperate to answer the question of how church and postmodernity relate. But they also convincingly argue that much emergent theology is lacking in Biblical power and authority. A must read for anyone reading Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, Brian McClaren or otherwise engaged in the emergent dialogue.
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Amazon.com: 97 reviews
249 of 256 people found the following review helpful
A constructive critique 27 Mar 2008
By Darryl Dash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A couple of years ago, I found myself disappointed with many of the critiques of the emerging church. Some were nasty, and some did a poor job of capturing the movement (or whatever you call it).

But something's changed: the quality of the critique. A case in point is this book.

The authors, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, don't take themselves too seriously. They write differently: Kevin is the more scholarly pastor, while Ted is the less academic guy who writes shorter, more experiential chapters. You get propositional arguments in this book, but you also get to visualize Ted reading Rob Bell while his wife's family cottage while discussing the contents with his brother-in-law, or sheepishly admitting that he likes Rob Bell's Nooma videos to his mother-in-law, who likes them too. I really enjoyed the voices of the authors in this book. "Emergent leaders have often cried foul when their books have been held up to academic scrutiny. 'We're not professional scholars,' they say, and neither are we. So it's a fair fight - more fair than fight, we hope."

I also like the way they approach the subject. They have read the books, and not just one or two either. They've been to some of the churches, conferences, and classrooms. They admit when they like the authors and speakers, and never forget that they're talking about real people. They like some aspects of the emerging church. They understand the difference between emerging and emergent. They don't think one voice speaks for the entire emerging church, and they speak appreciatively of those who are more theologically conservative.

They're also realistic about their goals. "We're not really writing this book to change people's minds because, let's face it, that rarely happens...This is our attempt at joining the 'conversation.'"

So what is their problem with the emerging church? Here they cover a lot of ground. They point out some of the problems with thinking of the journey as more about experience than a destination. They argue that humility is not the same thing as uncertainty. They argue for the value of propositions, which are not a modern phenomenon. They suggest that the emerging view of modernism is often caricatured. They gently poke fun at emergent speak. They present some of their problems with the notion, "Give me Jesus, not doctrine," and the emphasis on orthopraxy at the expense of orthodoxy. They question "whether the emerging church even has the category of theological error," concluding that some do, but also fearing that many do not. They suggest that the emerging church has an over-realized eschatology (too much "now" and not enough "not yet"). They argue for the value of boundaries, argue that preaching should not be thrown out, and highlight some of the contradictions and problems within popular emerging books. They defend the doctrine of penal substitution, which has been dismissed by some, as well as the doctrine of God's wrath. All of this and more. I really appreciated the way they engaged the theological issues within this book.

The epilogue of the book is a reflection on the letters to the churches in Revelation. "Emergent leaders need to celebrate all the strengths and shun the weaknesses of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 - and admit that Jesus' prescription for health is more than community, authenticity, and inclusion." The letters in Revelation speak to all churches, including, they argue, emerging ones.

I have to admit that I was nervous in picking up this book. The last thing we need is another critique that's well-meaning but sloppy, misguided, or mean. I'm no longer nervous. I'm sure not everyone will agree with or appreciate everything in this book, but we can all appreciate three things:

It provides greater understanding - This book will help those outside of the emerging church to understand the emerging church better, and vice versa.

It clarifies the issues - This book is a primer on what the issues are. It goes beyond some of the other critiques I've read that focus only on one or two writers or one or two issues.

It advances the "conversation" - I've always said that my emerging friends welcome critique when offered in the right way. I think this book qualifies. It may not change too many minds, but it may clarify some points of disagreement, and it may even lead to some discussion and correction. I highly recommend this book.
213 of 229 people found the following review helpful
An Introduction and Corrective 25 Mar 2008
By Tim Challies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"What is this emerging church I keep hearing about?" If I had a dime for every time I have been asked that question or one like it, well, I'd be several dollars richer. Emerging is one of the buzzwords in the church these days and one that begs for greater explanation. Unfortunately it is not an easy term to define. To borrow a tired cliche, defining the emerging church is much like trying to nail Jello to a wall. It's a near-impossible and entirely thankless task. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck give it a shot in their new book Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). These are two young men who, if we were to look to demographics, would be top candidates for involvement in the emerging movement. Yet they've stayed away from it, opting instead to commit to ministry and service within more traditional churches. In this book they explain why and in so doing explain what the emerging church is all about and the danger it poses.

In an editorial decision that turns out to be quite successful, DeYoung and Kluck alternate chapters throughout the book (though you'll want to watch for an exception at the very end where Kluck writes two consecutively). DeYoung's chapters are the more academic ones--they provide some in-depth interaction with the theology of the emerging church. Kluck's chapters, on the other hand, are less formal and more reflective. They actually read, perhaps ironically, not unlike something Don Millar might have written.

Kluck typically begins his chapters by discussing a book he has been reading or an emergent speaker he has heard. He bridges to some of the shortcomings of the emergent movement and some of the ways it has proven unbiblical. He includes several poignant descriptions of his church and the kind of classical Christianity that has fallen out of favor among emergents. Speaking of his search for a church he writes, "I was looking for a theology and a body that I could give my life to and entrust with my children. The reason I love Christianity and the Bible is that I think they are really the only things in this world that don't need to be periodically `repainted' or reframed." Quoting a friend, Kluck writes, "My other main concern is [emergents] seem to have adopted the American demographic marketing model. I may be wrong, but I'm afraid that a movement that claims to care about justice, community, and inclusivity seems to just be tailor-made for white, suburban, affluent professionals in their twenties and thirties. That concerns me from a self-delusional standpoint."

Meanwhile, DeYoung's chapters are the real heart of the book. He covers a variety of topics of great theological importance including the Bible, Christian doctrine, modernism and its impact on theology, and the doctrines of Jesus Christ. He shows the danger inherent in the emergent unwillingness to take stands even on doctrines closest to the heart of the Christian faith. The claim that emerging theology is still in process is no excuse. "It's one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology. It's another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musing and misgivings. I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions of our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey. No matter what new label you put on it, once you start selling thousands of books, speaking all over the country and world, and being looked to for spiritual and ecclesiastical direction, you're no longer just a conversation partner. You are a leader and a teacher. And this is serious business..." Neither can emerging leaders simply claim that they should not all be lumped together. "Call it a friendship, or a network, or a web of relationships, but when people endorse one another's book and speak at the same conferences and write on the same blogs, there is something of a discernible movement afoot."

Ultimately the authors conclude, as have many Christians, that "Emergent Christians need to catch Jesus' broader vision for the church--His vision for a church that is intolerant of error, maintains moral boundaries, promotes doctrinal integrity, stands strong in times of trial, remains vibrant in times of prosperity, believes in certain judgment and certain reward, even as it engages the culture, reaches out, loves, and serves. We need a church that reflects the Master's vision--one that is deeply theological, deeply ethical, deeply compassionate, and deeply doxological." We serve a God who is knowable and who wants to be known. We do not need to establish doubt as the essence of faith, but can have confidence in what God teaches about Himself. We need to be Christians who are first deeply theological and who allow ethics and justice and compassion to grow outward from that theological base.

Why We're Not Emergent is not a scholarly treatment of what is decidedly not an intellectual movement. Instead this is an eminently accessible book and one that should have very wide appeal. It will introduce you to the key leaders and foundational books of the emerging movement. It will show you why this emergent movement is so deceptive and so dangerous. If have been searching for a book that will help you to understand the emerging church or if you have been seeking to answer a friend's question "What is the emerging church?," this is just the book you'll want. I heartily recommend it.
137 of 157 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes brilliant, sometimes overstated 9 Aug 2008
By D. Stringer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I must confess that I often judge a book by its cover... the back cover that is. If the title and trendy cover artwork for Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) aren't catchy enough already, the endorsements on the back cover are what really grabbed my attention. Those who are familiar with the current mini-feud within evangelicalism between liberal "emergents" and conservative Calvinists will recognize names like scholar D.A. Carson, pastor Mark Dever and blogger Justin Taylor, all of whom are well respected in Calvinist/Reformed circles. Because of their high praise for this book, I was half-expecting another dry and academic roast of Brian McLaren's irreverent writing, which often distracts critics from the broader emerging movement's missional focus.

While reading the opening chapters, I quickly discovered that my pre-conceptions were largely incorrect. Gen-X authors Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck have done their homework and the result is a witty, engaging and accessible critique, certainly the most nuanced and evenhanded anti-emergent book yet published. While it's no surprise that their perspective is clearly Reformed (thanks to a healthy dose of penal substitution atonement theory, human depravity and unconditional election), their observations and conclusions will be helpful to readers across the Christian spectrum. With alternating chapters, DeYoung's pastoral/academic lens provides the theological substance while Kluck, a culturally savvy sportswriter with an eye for the ironic, supplies a colorful layperson's perspective.

Regardless of how one describes what it means to be `emerging' or `emergent' (the authors acknowledge there is a difference), it is unmistakably one of the most controversial movements in the church today. "Defining the emerging church is like nailing Jell-O to the wall" writes 30-year-old pastor Kevin DeYoung in the book's introduction. Even though the `emerging church' is not a denomination, nor does it have a statement of faith beyond the "values and practices" described on the Emergent Village website, it's safe to call it a "diverse, but recognizable, movement" and not just "a conversation" as some adherents are fond of doing. For a movement so heavy on terminology (emerging, emergent, missional, postmodern, incarnational, praxis, ancient-future, etc.) there is a glaring, intentional absence of clear definitions. I can identify with DeYoung when he says:

"It's frustrating because the `we're just in conversation mantra' can become a shtick whereby emergent leaders are easy to listen to and impossible to pin down... No matter what label you put on it, once you start selling thousands of books, speaking all over the country and world, and being looked to for spiritual and ecclesiastical direction, you're no longer just a conversation partner. You are a leader and a teacher." (p. 17)

For someone expressing such clear opposition to the movement on theological and philosophical grounds, it's commendable how DeYoung goes to great lengths to cultivate respectful dialogue, a practice frequently espoused by emergents. With generous disclaimers in the introduction, he acknowledges the possibility that his understanding of the movement may be different than that of his readers. He does his best to allow the movement to define (or not define) itself on its own terms. He acknowledges that some emergent authors "if push came to shove, would sound much more orthodox and evangelical than they come across in print" (I would agree). He welcomes correction if he's misunderstood anyone and he understands that everyone can't be lumped together under one label. He concedes that certain authors like Rob Bell and Donald Miller don't label themselves as "emerging" while some like Dan Kimball are more theologically responsible than others like Spencer Burke (no kidding). He doesn't want to think of his opponents as "bad guys" or criticize those who have been blessed by their ministries. He claims to not dislike all things emergent and refers to emergent believers as "brothers and sisters." He even gives a tip of the hat to Rob Bell, calling him "a good teacher."

Once the definitions and qualifiers are in place, DeYoung uses his 135+ pages as a passionate call for classic Protestant orthodoxy, addressing a variety of concepts that some (not all) emergent writers tend to downplay: the knowability of God, absolute truth, the need for doctrine/theological boundaries, the authority of Scripture, the existence of hell, the reality of God's judgement, the uniqueness of Christ, the nature of the atonement and the balance between law and gospel. Responding to a diverse host of writers including McLaren, Bell, Miller, Kimball, Burke, Doug Pagitt, Peter Rollins, Leonard Sweet and Tony Jones, DeYoung sometimes overstates his case, but for the most part, he makes a genuine attempt to engage his opponents fairly. Here is a sampling of my favorite slices:

"The Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message... As soon as you say Jesus died and rose again for your sins according to the Scriptures, you have doctrine. You have a message about what happened in history and what it means. That's theology. There is no gospel without it." (p. 113)

"Yes, yes, a thousand times yes; we do see through a glass dimly; we do not fully understand; we don't know God as God knows Himself; our words can't capture the essence of God. God is greater than we can conceive- but what about the 1,189 chapters in the Bible? Don't they tell us lots of things about God that we are supposed to do more with than doubt and not understand? Aren't the Scriptures written so that we might believe and be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see and even proclaim this faith to others?" (p. 123-124)

"Does anyone really believe that creedal formulations began with modernism, as if Christians suddenly got obsessed with doctrine in the wake of the Enlightenment? ... This is systematic theology- taking a question and trying to hear what all of Scripture says about it. Isn't that what McLaren has done about the kingdom or Dan Kimball about worship?" (p. 151)

"Does the emergent Jesus demand that all nations worship Him as their God and Savior or merely that everyone live like He did? ...Obviously, Jesus was chided for fraternizing with sinners and tax collectors, but why did the Jews crucify Him? They killed Jesus for His outrageous Godlike claims- that He was the Son of God and the King of Israel." (p. 204)

If DeYoung supplies the book's intellectual reasoning, Ted Kluck brings the satirical spark. Unlike his co-author, Kluck makes his points with subtlety, sharing what are more like meandering impressions (think Anne Lamott without the swearing) rather than blunt statements of condemnation. By diffusing defensiveness with a charming, self-deprecating approach (confessing that he too wears the Rob Bell glasses and gives "weak" responses to smart questions), he satirically questions the movement without spelling everything out. Never hesitant to poke fun at himself, he admits that "writing a book titled Why We're Not Emergent probably won't help at all in the `further alienating friends and acquaintances' department" (p. 99) adding later that "The idea that people read much of anything and have their minds changed by it is less and less realistic to me." (p. 234)

In chapter 2, Kluck does an excellent job of exploring (with a little bit of mystery and imagination I might add) the themes of protest and rebellion, tongue-and-cheekly calling himself a "rebel" for making what sounds like a hilarious short film about Christian stereotypes. Many readers, myself included, will identify with his anti-"evangelical cheesiness" stage. Kluck successfully deconstructs the appeal of protest and rebellion by pointing to examples from history that illustrate how protesting the status-quo is really nothing new. Ironically, this book, like much of emergent literature, is also a protest.

Kluck is at his creative best when he is describing the faddish trends embraced by the evangelical subculture, emergent or otherwise. Describing a theologically-minded friend of his named Dave, he says this:

"I wouldn't go so far as to put him in the "rabid young John Piper groupies" department, but if he met a beautiful young girl wearing glasses, no makeup and an indie-rock T-shirt, reading Calvin's Institutes, he probably wouldn't hesitate to ask her to 'court.'" (p. 99)

Some of my other favorite Ted Kluck snippets include his humorous description of a "web-based experiential prayer module" (p. 210) and this reflection on holiday letters:

"I hate holiday letter time. You know the time of year- it's the time when successful Christian couples send you the glossy photo of themselves in the yuppie uniform of the year surrounded by a passel of lovely children... The blonde housewife looks a little tired but nevertheless hot in a conservative Christian meets Desperate Housewives sort of way. And there's the husband, who has put on a little paunch since he sat on the Young Republicans committee in college and was the head of his class in his business school." (p.174)

One of the book's recurring themes is the need for balance. On page 156, DeYoung says, "We must refuse false dichotomies that force a wedge between head and heart, rationality and faith, truth and experience." In the epilogue, he reinforces the imperative this way:

"I pray fervently that my church not be a lopsided church that excels in one kind of virtue at the expense of other virtues... I fear emergent leaders are creating a host of false dichotomies that will produce lopsided churches, even as they respond to lopsided churches in the opposite directions." (p. 251)

For the most part, DeYoung and Kluck use sound reason and keen observation to expose many of the false dichotomies that abound in emergent literature including: belief vs. practice, destination vs. journey, information vs. transformation, doctrine vs. ethics, life after death vs. life on earth, scriptural commands vs. scriptural narratives and the gospel as an event vs. the gospel as a doctrine. On these issues, many influential emergent writers do in fact have a lopsided focus for which Why We're Not Emergent provides helpful correctives.

But despite their genuine efforts to maintain balance, there are more than a few instances when DeYoung and Kluck seem to present their own set of false choices by elevating one virtue at the expense of another. Some of these include: Scriptural wisdom over corporate wisdom (p. 79), belief in Christ over following the way of Jesus (p. 112), Jesus as Savior over Jesus as Servant (p. 188), atonement theory over economic justice (p. 191), sin and rebellion over suffering and brokenness (p. 194), "sin, justification and undeserved mercy" over "community, inclusion and journey" (p. 248) among others.

On pages 32-33, DeYoung emphasizes that the destination is more important than the journey. He describes the emerging path as "more about the wild, uncensored adventure of mystery and paradox" which is contrasted with Biblical passages about being sojourners in this world. He's right that there are certainly many passages in Scripture that talk about heaven, but there are just as many, if not more, that talk about how to live. Emergents clearly err on the side of emphasizing journey, but so do the Quakers and mystics from the contemplative tradition. DeYoung's Reformed tradition falls closer to the destination end of the spectrum, but both traditions are important to evangelicals and it would be a mistake to exclude either. Because DeYoung is so focused on the destination, it didn't surprise me that he is not a big fan of personal introspection:

"We are so in-tuned with our dysfunctions, hurts and idiosyncrasies that it often prevents us from growing up, because maturity is tantamount to hypocrisy in a world that prizes brokenness more than health." (p.34)

I would contend that becoming aware of and understanding our brokenness/depravity is a very important mark of the Christian life. This is not the same thing as "prizing" it. Perhaps the reason why "authenticity and sincerity have become the currency of authority" for postmoderns is because they have heard too many hypocritical "authorities" use doctrine as a tool to control others. Doctrine is critical to Christianity, but to set it up as a rival with personal introspection is another false choice that need not be made.

On the subject of preaching vs. discussion Kluck seems to imply that generation Xers are drawn to emergent because they hate truth or can't handle the truth:

"I would be hard pressed to find anything our generation hates more than `preaching.' When talking about our faith we're careful not to sound `preachy.' The word carries great baggage. It is especially important, too, to lead us to believe that we've figured something out on our own, rather than telling us anything." (p. 61)

I don't think this generation hates "preaching" as much as they hate preachers who don't speak the truth in love. As Kluck himself says using a James Dean movie character as an example, people really don't want to rebel as much as they want somebody worth submitting to. On page 64, Kluck says that he "was looking for a theology and a body that I could give my life to and entrust with my children." I would add that this is also what many emergents are looking for. Truth and love together. However, when people begin think that the only truth-tellers are mean-spirited or that the only people who will love them are people who deny the existence of absolute truth, we have created a false choice between truth and love.

As I scrawled a multitude of reactions in the page margins, I found myself vacillating between agreement and disagreement, sometimes even on the same page. I would often write "excellent point" and "false dichotomy" within the span of a paragraph or two- kind of like when I read Brian McLaren! The mix of brilliance and overstatement made for some roller coaster reading. One minute, Kluck is making terrific observations about the marketing strategies used by some churches, but before you know it, he's comparing emergents to tobacco lobbyists (p. 97). In another instance, he likens emergent preaching to a "Jesus-as-therapist approach" (p. 218), but I doubt that this concept would be as easy to dismiss if biblical names for God like Healer, Comforter or Counselor had been used instead. In a single paragraph, DeYoung goes from issuing a valuable warning about the emergent imbalance between the "already" vs. "not yet" to rebuking the movement's emphasis on fighting poverty/injustice since "Jesus said the poor will always be with us and wars and rumors of war will continue to the very end." (p. 187) Another example of this tottering occurs when Kluck astutely points out the pretense of emergent jargon:

"Why is it living incarnationally to drink Chai and listen to sitar music in a coffee shop, but not living incarnationally to eat cheese fries and watch big trucks crush things?" (p.230)

A fair point, but on the very next page, he seems to make fun of people who join intentional communities or practice "new monasticism" by sarcastically referencing those who "have time to read all of the books on missional living, which would tell him [his pastor friend Cory] to intentionally get a house in an urban area, get some kind of job that would allow him to rub shoulders with `regular people' and then `do life' with them." (p. 231) In a matter of paragraphs, DeYoung goes from making a solid exegetical case for balance based on the 7 churches in Revelation to pitting Donald Miller against Jonathan Edwards in theological mismatch of historic proportions! (p. 250)

My final criticism, perhaps a minor one, concerns the book's subtitle. Part of the marketing appeal and surface credibility of the book hinges on the idea that DeYoung and Kluck are "two guys that should be" emergent. This clever subtitle seems to imply that there's something about the authors that gives them a better understanding of the movement- that they are closer to the action in some way which gives their critique more weight than say, an academic rebuttal by D.A. Carson who is on the outside looking in. While it's true that both authors are young, culturally savvy, and grew up in Christian homes, these are hardly the defining characteristics of people who've joined the movement. As their book correctly stresses, questioning the way we `do church' is a huge, if not defining, element of being an emergent Christian. A major component of the emergent experience is being dissatisfied or disillusioned with your experience of the evangelical church, which then prompts you to question the way things should be done.

DeYoung speaks very positively of his conservative Reformed upbringing and was never interested in leaving it behind, much less becoming emergent. As far as Kluck is concerned, the closest he came to joining the movement was talking with a friend who tried unsuccessfully to recruit him into it. If everyone were this happy and content with their evangelical church experience, it's doubtful that an emerging movement would have ever "emerged" in the first place. The authors don't seem to question the way their Reformed community does church, just the way that some emergents do. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with critiquing something you're not part of and I truly rejoice that both guys appear to be thriving as part of their own faith tradition. But there's no evidence from either of their spiritual journeys that these guys were ever remotely interested in becoming emergent, so it's a somewhat of a misleading marketing gimmick to say that they "should be." I would not expect two Calvinist complementarians from western Michigan to be emergent any more than a I would expect a left-leaning open theist attending Fuller Seminary to be Dutch Reformed!

Personally, I consider myself someone who identifies with certain aspects of the movement, but I avoid the "emerging" label for its connotations of theological liberalism and doctrinal uncertainty. Based on my experience, I cannot say that this book provides a completely balanced description of what the movement is about. While it's true that certain writers and pockets of the movement are merely attempting to sell books, make people feel good, target a marketing demographic, provide disillusioned young Christians a forum to vent, promote liberal politics and protest evangelical authority, the emerging church has still made some positive contributions beyond their diagnosis of what's wrong with mainstream evangelical Christianity. A renewed interest in contemplative spiritual disciplines, the narrative depths of Old Testament, liturgical/sacramental worship, communal living, social justice (not just charity), participation in the Kingdom of God, spiritual formation, peacemaking, creation care and the way of Jesus are a few that come to mind. It's not that emergents are the only ones who care about such things, but the authors tend to either gloss over these aspects of the movement or treat them as distractions to the gospel.

Of course, I wouldn't expect DeYoung and Kluck to fully survey the merits of the emergent movement any more than I would trust Brian McLaren to provide a faithful summary of historic Reformed doctrine! But if you are looking for a moderate, theologically responsible description of what the emerging church is, I highly recommend the work of Scot McKnight, a respected evangelical scholar who has identified himself with Emergent Village, but is not afraid to offer a firm biblical rebuke of the movement when one is needed. A case in point was McKnight's rebuttal of Spencer Burke's A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, which represents the radical unorthodoxy and quasi-universalism awaiting emergents if statements of faith, moral boundaries, established doctrines and church history are ignored. DeYoung mentions on page161 that McKnight even has a few criticisms for Rob Bell's interpretation of 1st century Jewish history. As Kluck says on page 213, "When I see the emergent movement described by Scot McKnight, I like it a lot better than when I see it hashed out by Brian McLaren and Tony Jones." I couldn't agree more.

Although it is far too one-sided for me to suggest this to those looking for an introductory survey of the movement, I highly recommend Why We're Not Emergent to those who are already participating in the "conversation" as well as anyone who wants a summary of its weaknesses. You're not likely to find a more respectfully nuanced (and engaging to read) case against the emerging church than the one presented in this book. DeYoung and Kluck have provided an articulate call to historic orthodoxy that should be, and hopefully will be, welcomed at the discussion table.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Informative, readable, balanced, and humorous treatment of the emerging church 31 Dec 2008
By presuppositionalist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I confess that when I first saw the "cool" poly-chromatic cover of this book and the provocative title I envisioned something alone the lines of "Do Hard Things" by the Harris boys---a book that doesn't give you serious insight as much as it makes you smile and think, "Gee, I'm glad that there's still solid kids out there!" While I would have enjoyed such a book, what I actually read was immensely superior.

The book is a theological and "on-the-street" perspective of the emerging church (henceforth EC), written by two Reformed guys in their early thirties. Both great writers, they each contribute in a different way while still complementing one another. I appreciate that they worked on this together. I'll discuss Kevin DeYoung, the pastor-theologian, first. DeYoung's theological treatment is very well-researched, balanced, and wide. He hits all of the main facets of the EC, succinctly summarizing the essence of this movement and deftly pointing out its flaws.

Since the EC is difficult to define, I was very curious as to how DeYoung would actually begin. Much to my surprise and delight, on p. 20-22 he presented a long list of characteristics that give you a decent feel for what this whole "emergent" thing is all about. This is the beauty of stereotypes---though imperfect and often times exaggerative, its still nice to read them and think to yourself, "Ohh... I think I see who he's talking about." This approach works because it gives the reader context, allowing him to draw upon what he probably already knew but could never put a name on. And then DeYoung spends the rest of the book filling in the details or sanding off the rough edges of some of the more questionable or comical stereotypes.

And as I mentioned, DeYoung seems to cover all of the bases: journey versus destination, "Jesus is all I need" theology, God's "knowability", revelation, mystery, certainty, doubt, argument versus conversation, propositions, foundationalism, postmodernism, modernism, orthodoxy, "repainting the faith," theological and political liberalism, doctrinal boundaries, exclusivism, false dichotomies, semantic difficulties, church leadership, preaching, social justice and activism, the kingdom of God, the gospel, Hell, and God's wrath.

Once again, his discussion of these topics isn't an in-depth scholarly treatment, but it doesn't need to be. DeYoung spends sufficient time on each topic before moving on, generally stating the emergent position (using the words of emergent thinkers, of course), gently pointing out the problems, and explaining the significance of the issue from a Refomed perspective. He certainly has a gift for organization---each chapter covers just the right amount of topics that seem to have just enough in common with one another. All the chapters are valuable, but I particularly enjoyed the one on the "boogeyman" of modernism, which points out the historical revisionism behind the emergent caricature of evangelicalism.

As mentioned before, DeYoung is charitable towards the EC---perhaps too charitable. I'm glad he admits that he could be misunderstanding them and that he's not trying to lump the whole movement together. I disagree, however, that all segments of the EC loves Jesus. Maybe the far more tame Scot McKnight variety, but I don't see how the EC can so openly deny Christ's words and yet sincerely love Him (2 John 6-9), as DeYoung sometimes claims (p. 204). To his credit, he does state fairly bluntly that some thinkers, like Burke and Chalke, have essentially abandoned the gospel. A few more minor criticisms: DeYoung at one point unwittingly nods his head toward the very fallibilist argument that renders knowing God (or anything, for that matter) impossible (p. 83). Next, I wish he had explained in brief why social justice---a huge pillar in the emergent orthopraxy wing---is unbiblical. Finally, DeYoung often describes the emergent church position from a first-person perspective, which can be confusing. For example, on p. 194 he alternates between describing his position and the emergent position, without using quotes or italics to differentiate, in the same paragraph.

Moving on to Ted Kluck: I love this guy. Though I bought the book primarily for the theological insight, I found his chapters very well-written, clever, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. In journaling his thoughts and experiences with the EC and some of its critics he really does capture a lot of the frustration, attitude, and emotion of the emergent church. Though he is dead serious at times, much of his writing is satirical, which I greatly appreciate. Whether poking fun at John Piper "groupies" or describing Rob Bell's white, middle-class, suburbanite congregation trying to sing civil rights spirituals, Kluck often had me rolling. Indeed, for all of the hoopla about being innovative, different, postmodern, whatever---the EC really doesn't bring any new moves to the dance. Its warmed over theological liberalism with a side-helping of neo-orthodoxy, all wrapped in cute cliches and pseudo-intellectual verbiage. At times this is troublesome, at times its just downright silly. Kluck emphasizes both nicely without coming across as having an axe to grind.

As a Calvinist I appreciate DeYoung and Kluck's Reformed perspective. I think that Reformed theology, particularly presuppositional apologetics, offers an antidote to the disillusionment of both traditional evangelicalism and "postmodern theology". I won't go into depth on that topic here, but I did enjoy DeYoung drawing upon Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, and DA Carson.

Finally, I want to defend DeYoung and Kluck against the notion that the book's subtitle is just a marketing gimmick. I do believe that many of us young guys raised in the evangelical church "should be" emergent---according to the EC, at least. You see, I just spent five years at a conservative Christian school where I saw firsthand the fruit of the clash between the "modernists" and the "postmodernists". (Wasn't pretty.) I saw the arguments on both sides. I became disillusioned with much of evangelicalism---both the form and the doctrine. I should be emergent. But instead I became Reformed. Likewise, since DeYoung and Kluck operate right outside of MSU they of all people should know that "modern Christianity" isn't working in this "postmodern culture". But instead of abandoning orthodox Christianity for paradox, mystery, and uncertainty they are holding tight to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

In conclusion, I was already familiar with the EC before I read this book, having read McLaren, Bell, and Miller, but I can easily say that I walked away with a more solid understanding of the movement. I will undoubtedly recommend this book as the best overview of the EC available: charitable, insightful, informational, humorous, and---last but not least---just the right length.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Thoughtful Response to the Emergent Church 8 Mar 2009
By A. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book after hearing Kevin DeYoung speak at my college. His talk took the form of a 'conversation' between himself and the pastor of a local emergent church. I had a great time, and for this reason: DeYoung's interaction with the emergent pastor was kind, thoughtful, and very Christian, as was the emergent pastor's interaction with DeYoung. The two men voiced their concerns and disagreements with great respect and gentleness. I remember thinking, "This is what disagreements within the Church should look like."

Having seen DeYoung in action, I was able to understand his approach in writing this book (alongside the delightful and amusing Ted Kluck). I see that some reviewers feel that the book is unfair and unbalanced, and that a couple people have slammed it because it seems unkind. DeYoung did not strike me as the sort of person who would sit down in anger and write a book that deliberately cast the emergent church in the wrong light. He struck me as someone genuinely concerned about some of the emergent church's views, who wanted to enter into the ongoing dialogue.

One of the difficulties is, of course, that the emergent church is impossible to pin down. Emerging churches within the movement cover a wide spectrum. DeYoung and Kluck both make it clear that they are not bashing the emergent church, nor are they criticizing all churches that call themselves emergent. Instead they are making known the concerns they have as fellow believers in Christ.

Kluck and DeYoung write with very different styles, which aided my enjoyment of the book by adding variety. They interacted with the emergent church in different ways, which I think gave them an even more balanced approach. The book is not very long, and by no means a complete analysis of the emergent church. However, the authors have done their homework (DeYoung, for example, says he has read 5,000 pages of emergent literature in preparation).

As a result of reading this book, I feel prepared to interact with the emergent church in a more knowledgeable way. This book lays a good foundation for further research into the emergent church movement, by making some potential problems known.

Other reviewers can analyze particular arguments made by the authors, but I wanted to let potential readers know that this is not an angry book. You might not agree with/like everything DeYoung and Kluck have to say, but I can't disapprove of the way they say it.
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