I simply just HAD to use that title for this post – he he he – I took it from an excellent PDF by Bill Hernard, offered up with permission by Ed Stetzer. Its called “Sinners in the Hand of the Emergent Church: Jonathan Edwards Join the Conversation.” [PDF], presented at the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education. I agree with Hernard’s conclusions, that there are things Edwards would both affirm and dismiss from our present emergent church movement.
High point: A number of interesting parallels between Jonathan Edwards and the emerging church of today. Bill has done some decent research here. For example, Edwards engaged the local culture and used innovative methods to reach people, including hymn singing in worship. He also took a big risk by supporting the itinerant evangelists.
Low Point: I was kinda hoping this Baptist pastor would use some Baptist emerging church examples. Its a little disappointing that, while the Southern Baptist Convention boasts some of the earliest and best examples of emergent churches and emergent church leaders in America over the past 15 years, none of them make it into Bill’s paper. Or is it just a matter of convenience that we give our critique to churches on the other side of the denominational fence?
Further study: I wonder if the parallels from Edwards experience as a missionary preacher among the Native Americans (not tackled in Hernard’s paper) might be even more applicable to a missional approach to the emerging culture than his experience with the settlers. Did Edwards demand the Native Americans convert to English language culture [and American value system] and a non-indigenous worship style or did he apply Biblical principles of cross cultural apostolic ministry in the way many emerging church apostles are now employing as they take the gospel into other cultures?
Hello, seminary students?????
Update: I have a new post that mentions Edward’s relation to the “emergent church” phrase from 1622. Its called Emergent Church Difficulties and Differences.