Monday, May 16, 2011

An Open Letter to the Emergent Church (as written by an orthodox rebel)

NOTE: Before reading this post, and especially before commenting on it, please read the following definition. Anyone commenting to the effect that I should have contacted someone directly with this letter will have their comment deleted. They obviously did not understand the nature or purpose of this medium of communication.

For the sake of hair-splitters, allow me to make a distinction: by "emergent church," I am not referring to the mere attempt by recent Christians to engage the post-modern culture. Rather, I am referring to the movement that, in trying to engage post-modernism, compromised with post-modernism and became its derivative religious wing.

Dear Emergent Church,

I'm sure that this letter is already obsolete, seeing as how I have heard multiple times that your "movement" is on its way out, revealing itself to be exactly what most sensible people figured it to be: a temporary, fleeting fad and fever, yet another awkward and shameful attempt by Christianity to ape the culture. Thus, as you are unceremoniously passed kicking and screaming out of our system, allow me to add my own voice to the congested and convoluted infinite regression that you call a "conversation". You may ignore my thoughts as you please, but at least your slobbering love-affair with pointless, aimless "dialogue" will guarantee me getting a hearing.

I just want to ask you one question. You believe in Jesus (of a sort). You call Him (on occasion) our "savior". Savior from what, exactly?

From white, European males? From fundamentalists and Republicans? From hellfire preachers and hateful cranks? From unfavorable environments of poverty, politics, and oppression? Is Jesus no more to you than another left-wing activist? Another guru Gandhi, lover of abstract humanity and hater of actual men and women? Teaching us a love with no logic? Revealing a mystery that conceals no truth?

Is this what He has come to save us from: half of all the good things in the world by a gluttonous bloating of the other half? Has he brought us a simpering morality and vacuous social activism in order to save us from honor? Valor? The fight and the battle? The glory and the pride? The beauty and the ecstasy and the unutterable violence of unshakable conviction and creed, definable and categorical to the last non-negotiable degree? Has he come to save us from fairy-tales? From the old stories that said that the princess didn't need a vote or voice but rather a rescue and the knight's armor soaked in the blood of the blatant beast? Is that what your so-called "savior" has come to save us from? From rescue? From riding on the thunderclouds of redemption? Or is it actually true that Jesus came to save us from Sin? Sin that eats at the soul like a cancer? Sin that kills absolutely? The bedrock of all bedlam and horror in the world? Of all tyranny and tragedy?

Why do you give us a God who loves without hate? Who forgives without precedent? Whose heart is made of candy? What pasty, vanilla dullness have you foisted upon us? What is this gross banality that you call divinity? Where is the jealous, wrathful lover? Where is the smitter of Canaan, the plunderer of the treasures of Jericho? Where is the warrior king who chases his ravished and ravishing beloved across a wilderness and wasteland of bones and blood, dragons and demons? Where is the winepress of the wrath of God? What is this God you have given me whose love is not strong enough to hate? True love hates: it must hate all that imperils and spoils the beloved. You have given me your God of sugar, and the slightest rain of horror and great darkness has washed him away. I ask you, where is the Rock of our salvation? The shelter in a time of storm and the great grinder upon which we all must be broken?

Understand this: I despise you as a philosophy and an idea and am absolutely against you for this very reason: you give us a pathetic God. A God without teeth, whose love is watered-down to mere pity, and whose truths wouldn't offend a fly. You remove His righteous and unmovable judgements and instead give Him a weak-kneed moralism born and bred of political manias and secular sentiments, an evangel contrived and constructed by white-guilt for the sole purpose of satiating that white-guilt. Tell me, you almighty doctrinaires and dogmatists of relevancy: is there no room in your narrow-minded and bigoted box of boiled-to-rags religion for God to be God? To be exactly who He, and He alone, said He was? Who Christ said He was? A God of mercy and justice? Grace and truth? Love and holiness? Love and wrath? Wrathful love and loving wrath?

No, there is no room. No room in your paltry little inn and shack for such a God. There never was. You are no better than the post-modern wasteland that you supposedly "engage". Like them, you have stolen God from us, replacing Him with a whitewashed picketer and hipster. A hollow substitute, like a rotted tree.

Take away from me your scarecrow deity. Repent and seek after the living God of Israel, whom you have forsaken for your vain delusions. You have abandoned God in order to have your aimless adventures. I say to you, Come, and find your adventures in God.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011


  1. Dr. Bill says, Preach it, brother.

  2. Truly, the church has become lukewarm...even cool. Small wonder the world has become increasingly depraved as our message has become diluted beyond recognition. Keep crying in the wilderness!!

  3. Emergent Church: just another type of "evangelical idolatry".

  4. To which particular political manias might you be referring?

  5. On the Left, it's the "social activist" types who see all people as non-responsible victims whose salvation is found in the latest government program.

    On the Right, it's the "moral majority" types who politicize God at every turn and think that His will is initiated by government legislation.

    In both cases, redemption becomes solely a human activity that deals with social ills rather than a Divine activity that deals with Sin.

  6. YAY!!! Love this one! And I am totally quoting you. "True love hates: it must hate all that imperils and spoils the beloved."