Deep Church

Jim Belcher's book, Deep Church, came out last year from IVP. I obtained a copy as soon as I could. I was excited by its premise, and by its promise. I was not disappointed.

I have read several books promising a "third way" or a middle ground between the "emergent" and "traditional" ways of seeing and doing church, and have been largely disappointed. So much misunderstanding and miscommunication exists, on both sides; I have been uniformly saddened by the ungrace that characterizes so much of the church's speaking and writing--even when the subject is grace! Belcher's book is the first I've read that truly understands where both sides are coming from, and doesn't condescend or demonize anyone. He exhibits admirable depth (go figure) and grace in listening to, grasping, and addressing the key issues in the discussion. In short, it is clear that Belcher loves and respects those he quotes, and even those he corrects, a truly "Christ-ian" and biblical attitude, which far too many apologists, pastors, preachers, writers, and "defenders" of the faith seem to eschew.

Belcher's sorting of "emergent" churches into three categories (relevants, reconstructionists, and revisionists) was insightful and helpful, as was his identification of the major issues (and the solution, so to speak, or "third way" which he prescribes) into seven well-defined topics: truth, evangelism, Gospel, worship, preaching, ecclesiology, and culture.

Because of his evenhanded treatment of disparate views, I was shocked by his characterization of those with an egalitarian view of women in leadership as "revisionists" who are "open to questioning key evangelical doctrines on theology and culture" (p. 46), particularly since he seemed to display some knowledge of the excellent biblical scholarship being performed by many in the egalitarian camp. As faults go, however, this is an easy one to overlook.

I highly recommend Deep Church.

1 comment:

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