I am very excited about this book because someone has finally put down on paper the way I feel about the wars between the Traditional and the Emerging Church. This book will hopefully go a long way to mending the tears between each camp so people can see the reality of the Church today.
Jim Belcher painstakingly reviews 7 items that have cause controversy between the two camps and shares how there can be and IS a 3rd way. The 7 topics he talks on are: Truth, Evangelism, Gospel, Worship, Preaching, Ecclesiology and Culture.
However, before defining these out and sharing his third way (which he calls “Deep Church”) he defines out the Emerging church and how he has intersected with it in his life. I was overjoyed that he did this because it let me see a window of his life most pastors leave out. Jim has close ties with the Emerging movement and has real inside discussions that he brings to the table.
Jim initially defines out three camps of The Emerging Church. Those camps are: Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists. (Page45-46 summarized from Ed Stetzer)
Relevants: Are theologically conservative and desire not to change theology or doctrine but simply desire to be relevant to the people of this culture by updating worship styles, preaching technique and church leadership structure. They are dedicated to the Word and make sure they are within the bound of Scripture. If I were to pigeonhole Jim (who is making the point for a third way) I would say if he were “Emerging” this is where he would lie. It is also where I find myself (however Jim has really brought some new thoughts to my mind with this book)
Reconstructionists: typically hold a more orthodox view of the gospel and scripture but are rethinking the current form of the church and its structure. They are playing with organic church ideas as well as home church ideas.
Revisionists: When most people think of the Emerging movement, they think of these guys. This group is the “Rethink everything” group even Biblical ideas, Biblical mandates and Biblical truth. They don’t think anything about the current church is correct and have a strong desire to rethink all of what it has done and do it differently…it gets dangerous and heretical when they question the Bible and the truth within its pages.
After Jim sets this picture of the church he quickly shares that most of what he will write will look at how the Reconstructionists and Revisionists think since most of what the Relevants think and feel doesn’t tick off the Traditional church as much.
Jim then goes through the 7 points of the Emerging church and give the Traditional view, the Emerging view and the new 3rd way he’s proposing. It is an excellent and thought provoking read! I recommend that if you are interested in these topics you pick this book up and educate yourself on this new third way! It is a GREAT way now known as the Deep Church.