Why We’re Not Emergent

April 10, 2009

why-were-not-emergentWhy We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, is a terrific book.  For anyone interested in learning more about the now not-so-new stream in the contemporary Christian church, often referred to as “emerging” or “emergent”, this is a great place to get informed.

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck are friends in real life, and both worship at the same church; a church that serves the community around Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.  A community that would clearly be defined as a target audience for the “emergent church.”  DeYoung is the senior pastor and Kluck a member of University Reformed Church.  The two essentially alternate the authorship of the chapters of the book, 11 of them in all, plus an epilogue.  As Kluck notes in the section of the Introduction to the book that he wrote, DeYoung’s chapters are longer and more propositional, while his are shorter and more “experiential” because he is not a seminary-trained theologian (as is DeYoung), rather, he is just a guy in the pew, (or as he says in his case, in the plastic chair). 

This characterization proves incredibly accurate.  DeYoung’s chapters really are theologically deep.  He uses quotations from many of the major figures in the “emergent” church and the ending of his chapters often have dozens of  references to the sources that he cites.  I found his technique to be quite effective, as he uses the “emergent” leaders’ own words to implicate and indict.  And his well informed and insightful commentary served to drive home the points he is making.   DeYoung’s chapters left me feeling truly enlightened.

Kluck may try to self-efface in the Intro to the book, but he is himself a professional writer, so his chapters do not suffer from having “just been written by some guy in the pew (or plastic chair).  He uses a kind of critical cynicism about the “emergent” movement, that is not unkind, or hateful, but makes the points very effectively, and with good humor.  It was a fun combination with DeYoung’s writing, and his chapters read very quickly.

This book is a keeper.  It is not for the casual reader, but it will be helpful to anyone who doesn’t mind wading into the theology of this stream and the arguments against it. 

You can read more of, and about Kevin DeYoung at his blog, DeYoung Restless and Reformed.