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Scot McKnight on the Emerging Church – Read It

2 November 2006

I am so glad I read Mike Cope’s blog this morning, because he directed me to a transcript of a recent speech by some dude named McKnight or something at a reformed seminary somewhere. Find it at

The reasons I bring it up are severalfold.

1. Not too terribly long ago, qb in his ruthless ignorance castigated Coop and some other silverbacks around RM-Bible for being – and this was epithetical – a *gasp* pomo. (For those of you in Rio Linda, that’s short for “postmodern person.” It also charmingly permits the construction of an elegant term, “pomophobe,” which adequately describes qb in one of his former manifestations.) But qb’s pomophobia was borne, as so many brands of xenophobia are, of an inexcusable misunderstanding of the object of his righteous indignation. McKnight’s speech is a wonderful antivenin for that.

2. Some great words in there. McKnight – qb doesn’t know who the Sam Hill he is – appears to be equal parts scholar and welder, which is to say, he has no trouble stepping from “noetic” and “apophetic” into “[ ] sucks.” He is multifluent; he makes you laugh at your familiar self, and then he sends you whistling to the dictionary.

3. Perhaps most importantly, he urges those of us who tend to build, and then reject, caricatures of movements that we fear or suspect to give the emerging church a fair hearing, which he defines as “describing it until its adherents say, `yes, you’ve got it.'” This is a helpful exercise for anyone, most notably qb, who is capable of the most toxic, oblivious forms of xenophobia.

4. Finally, the substance is really good. He characterizes the emerging church as a lake into which four streams flow: postmodernism, praxis, post-evangelical and political. There is much to be admired in how McKnight has described each of those four streams: generously, self-deprecatingly, but with a clear-eyed realism. (For example, he concedes that the movement’s politics are, Brian McLaren’s protestations notwithstanding, solidly liberal – as Americans experience that term. But I think McKnight would deny that the political conservative or the independent could not find a home within the emerging church movement, if only as a thorn, a corrective to the excesses of the social gospel.)

So I commend this speech-transcript to you. Pour a cup of Peet’s coffee into your stainless travel mug, put on your Birkenstocks (!) and sink back into a bean bag with this thing. It will do you some good; it has certainly done qb some good already.


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