What the Emergent Church Misses

Even if they’re able to accomplish their goals, the EC will still be missing something. They’ll be missing a monastic tradition. They‘ll be missing the mystical tradition. Now, I know about groups like the Bruderhof, but even they do not fill the role of monasticism. A family living in community cannot dedicate itself solely to God. They must still care for each other. Further, most protestants I know (and even some Catholics and Orthodox) reject the idea of monasticism entirely. But why is the monasticism important to Christianity? Well, look at how monasteries started. When Christians were no longer persecuted in the 3rd century, martyrdom relatively disappeared. The monastics became the new spiritual heros for Christianity. Monastics help us to understand how to experience God. The provide a living example of theosis. It is very difficult for any person with worldly attachements, be they family, job, or property, to attain theosis. Thus, we need the monastics to draw us closer to the experience of God. Theosis or anything like it is almost compeletly absent from most of protestant Christian practice. We can understand the paucity of this experience when we see that the Protestant Reformation was the result of the embrace of objective truth. Empiricism and philosophy have so overwhelmed the protestant understanding of God that they’ve neglected the experience of God. Christ himself taught that we see God through our heart. We experience him and know him through the heart — thought and analysis of scripture doesn’t bring us closer to him. So, what does the EC offer? It offers to “reconstruct” Christianity in a way that is still focused on a result: getting (post-)modern people into Church. I have always struggled with this focus on the results of any effort. The EC feels, to me, as if it were yet-another attempt to market the message to an “unchurched” world. Yes, it is a good thing to separate Christianity from the Republicans. But, are you doing it just to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise listen? Sure, it’s good to have a more “narrative” approach to Scripture. But is that just the result of post-modern influence on Christians? Or is this the easiest way to reconcile scientific materialism with your faith?