Deep Church

184227504601 Sclzzzzzzz V44228500 Aa240 A new book has just been released called Remembering our Future: Explorations in Deep Church, edited by Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton. I am grateful for my chat with Luke Bretherton and Jonny Baker last year in a London pub and am really happy that this book is now available. Its really an EXCELLENT, challenging, thoughtful book.

My blurb on the back says,

“These essays are the best attempt I have come across to address the emerging church’s need for a deep ecclesiology. I not only recommend a rigorous contemplation of this book, but also commend its vision of ‘Deep Church’ as a worthy goal for all streams of church life”

Andrew Jones, back cover, Remembering Our Future

Deep Church is a term coined by C.S. Lewis that never really got off the ground, being passed over by the preferred phrase “Mere Christianity”. But Deep Church is back with a vengeance. Get used to the term because you are going to hear much more of it. And this book is a great introduction.

“Perhaps the trouble is, as supernaturalists, whether ‘Low’ or ‘High’ Church, thus taken together, they lack a name. May I suggest ‘Deep Church’; or, that fails in humility, Baxter’s ‘mere Christians’?”

C.S. Lewis, letter to Church Times, February 8, 1952

Andrew Walker writes a mind-blowing earth-shattering chapter of historic proportions called “Recovering Deep Church”. Lewis would be smiling. The other writers add their chapters, all of which are good and pick up on Walkers premise. But most relevant to our conversation on this blog is Luke’s chapter called “Beyond the Emerging Church”. Luke situates the emerging church as an offshoot of the Pentecostal/Charasmatic movement and therefore complicit in its weaknesses as well as its strengths. Weaknesses here referring to a anti-credalism and a-historicism. His chapter is both a critique and an exhortation to emerging churches. He even chews me out for jumping in too quickly with terms like “Church 2.0“.

But thats the missionary in me.

Deep Church, is a challenge to swing back (as Len Sweet once put it) and embrace the 2000 year old heritage of the church. It is a challenge to continuity in an age of disruption. Continuity and change are always necessary, but without an adequate grasp on how we know what we know, we are ill equipped to move forward and ill-advised to innovate. We need to be immersed in the Scripture AND the Christian Tradition.

Its that second one that trips up evangelicals. Tradition. In many ways the book builds on Baptist theologian D.H. Williams impressive book called Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants and brings its conclusions to bear on todays church scene. Its a call to embrace the holy catholic apostolic church through the centuries. Not an easy task for suspicious protestants. I have read Williams book twice this year.

I see Remembering our Future as a very British book but I am hoping my American friends will pick it up. In the UK, the emerging church was spawned from the charasmatic tradition and enjoys an inherent connection with the Anglican church. In the USA, where the term “deep ecclesiology” carries a similar meaning, the emerging church in the most part has come from conservative evangelicalism, both charasmatic and non-charasmatic. But like its British cousins, it inherits an anti-credalism and a-historicism. Perhaps even MORE so. It has also borrowed a double-dose of pragmaticism from the church growth movement and the seeker-senstive churches. This gives it a predisposition towards the ‘mutability’ of the gospel rather than its continuity. Remembering Our Future will help point them in the right direction. And Williams book also. In fact, Americans might want to start with Wiliams.

In a new blog called Deep Church, Jason Clark, who fast becoming a deep church evangelist, writes a number of thought provoking blog posts.

Deep Church lecture series is happening at Westminster Theological Centre in London. I am planning to be there on June 19. See you there.

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

12 Comments

  • Andrew,
    Great to hear of this book. And I shall surely order it quickly. I think the “ancient future evangelical call” of Bob Webber (who has since passed away)has similar themes. D.H. Williams has particpated in this as well. In fact, in the opening AEF Conference at my own institution (Northern Seminary, Chicago area) last December, Brian McLaren delivered the opening address calling the emerging church to a “deep ecclessiology.” Excellent convergences taking place.
    Peace.

  • What I wouldn’t give for a plane ticket and a seat at the Deep Church Lecture series! Very interested in the two books. Thanks for the review and exhortation.

  • First emerging church, now deep church. Back in the 1960s The Catonsville Roadrunner announced that the submarine church was surfacing. Time to dive again!

  • Hi
    I’ve just finished reading ‘The Gospel According To Starbucks’, ‘Velvet Elvis’, ‘The McDonaldization Of The Church’ and ‘Organic Church’ and all of them are great books. I’m reading ‘Rembering Our Future…’ now. I’m about 1/5 of the way through and can’t put it down. It’s as good as those other books (if not better!). Will add more to this comments section when I’ve finished it. Cool.
    Brother Tahg

  • Hi
    I’ve just finished reading ‘The Gospel According To Starbucks’, ‘Velvet Elvis’, ‘The McDonaldization Of The Church’ and ‘Organic Church’ and all of them are great books. I’m reading ‘Rembering Our Future…’ now. I’m about 1/5 of the way through and can’t put it down. It’s as good as those other books (if not better!). Will add more to this comments section when I’ve finished it. Cool.
    Brother Tahg

  • i don’t know if this a-historicism is a feature of the emerging church as a whole. Is the pentecostal birth stream hypothesis something that is unique to the UK/European emerging experience?
    I see the new monastic stream as being a caretaker of historic christian spirituality.
    I will def. be interested in reading this book.

  • no – nothing is a feature of the whole – its far too complex and international for that.
    but for UK and USA it often rings true.
    good to see EC leaders buck the trend like Dan Kimball going back to Nicene Creed.

  • “In the UK, the emerging church was spawned from the charasmatic tradition”… I’m not sure I’d agree with that, or at least it is a huge simplification… if one where to simplify the “emergence” of “The emerging church” in the UK, then for me, Youth Ministry, Greenbelt and Alt.Worship would figure higher up the list than the charismatic tradition.
    I agree with Nathan C that the current explorations of EC/Missional Communities/new-monastic communities are anything but a-historical, rather they have been and continue to delve deep into Christian tradition – from Celtic to Otrhodox etc. and many of us have never been Pentecostal. One only has to look at the vast number of comments on the UK Emerging Church leaders/communities network site about the place of Ordination and the meaning of Preisthood to see that many of the communities do, as you suggest share more of a sense of connection (however thin) with the Anglical/Episcopal traditions… to say nothing of contemplative and mystical spirituality… and… Emerging churches in the UK are forever writing creeds and liturgies!!!
    I haven’t read the book, but if it does reflect your summary then I don’t recognise the picture painted of the EC in the UK as being an accurate one for a large percentage of the communities and the conversation.

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