Dallas Theological Seminary on emerging church (again)

I told you about the first time Dallas Theological Seminary tackled the subject of the emerging church. I thought they did a really good job. The next installment is now available. Its called Key Topics in the Emerging Church by 4 teachers. Part 1, 2 and 3

Again, I like their tone and approach. But it does sound like a bunch of guys who have read some books on the emerging church and are offering their opinion. I don’t sense the passion and personal connection that comes when teachers follow their students to the missional edge of the communities they are transforming and come back to give an explanation. They seem to be explaining the books of people far from them, their seminary and their students. Exception is Dan Kimball who, quite rightly, gets good treatment during the sessions.

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More thoughts and knee-jerk reactions:

– I have met students from DTS now doing church in the emerging culture, and doing a good job. Why not start with the DTS alumni in the emerging church, and use the published authors as back up? But then I am only on the first session and have two more to go.

– Eventually, the question of eschatology will come up and the issue of emerging church, generally speaking, leaning towards the post-millenial side of the equation and suspect of dispensational pre-tribulation eschatology. But one of the issues in this series is this: They are suggesting the pendulum swing in the emerging church has come too far from orthodoxy to orthopraxy. Good question.

– I think when we shift the word missional to incarnational (session 3) then we lose something of the cost, commitment and creative strategy of being sent, as Christ was sent by the Father, into a new and different culture. The incarnation of Christ is the model for mission but to lose the cross-cultural focus by shifting the emphasis from missional to pastoral or evangelistic is by-pass the pressing challenge of a vastly different post-Christian environment in which we are sent with good news.

– As for books, the books recommended are good ones. Glad to see Pete Rollins (not an American) get a mention.

– Are we neglecting the epistles as we focus on Jesus and the gospels? Good question. and we might be, especially if we have spent the past few decades hearing nothing but the epistles. I am really enjoying Isaiah right now. And I find myself coming from the Old Testament back into Romans and the New Testament with refreshed vision.

Final thoughts, after listening to all 3 sessions – I LIKE IT and I like these guys. They listen and humbly offer their advice. They model how we should do theological conversation. Well done. I do wish they would see the emerging church movement through the missions lens as much as they see it through the theological lens but that probably has more to do with the flavor or DTS as a whole.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Kevin Libick says:

    As a DTS grad and one who is doing ministry to teens in a postmodern culture I have to agree with your assessment of DTS. The professors on an individual level are very humble. It is the DTS party line that was hard for me to swallow. I came away from my time there with a great appreciation for Scripture, even though I wasn’t coming to their conclusions.
    I would venture to say that there is a whole host of emerging church guys coming out of the school that aren’t getting a whole lot of attention from the alumni office.

  • Jeremy Myers says:

    I graduate from DTS in May and agree with your assessment of those discussions, and the general approach to education at DTS. It is heavy on theology and exegetical technicalities, and light on being missonal. This is starting to change some, but will take a long time.
    Kevin Libick is right on target with his comment.
    On a related note, I have been in the DTS placement program for almost a year now, and have yet to see an “emergent” church come down the list of churches looking for pastors from DTS. This is one reason I’m headed for church planting.

  • Kevin McGill says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I am glad to hear my alma mater is handling the issue well. As a grad from DTS and a church planter in downtown Dallas, and one experimenting with the emerging church, I relate to the issue of missional and incarnational. I have to say that I am still inclined to use incarnational. Missional is starting to degrade into the new word for “evangelism”. It has lost its strength as a wholistic, culturally penetrating word.
    Check out our site: http://www.koinechurchplant.blogspot.com

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