I had some hits on the blog yesterday through a comment I made on Earl Creps blog.

I raised the issue that it is great that Earl is trying to have the Pentecostal church, in his case Assemblies of God USA, have an emerging church expression and we need to have a conversation about the whole process.  In the process of considering planting an emerging church Earl has copped abuse.

The  problem is that it is easy to throw stones when someone recommends a book which has a line or chapter we disagree with.  I have a few books and movies I recommend to many people that I have to say I love this, except the chapter on …,  or the section on … .  Some of this has happened to Earl as he left the reader/viewer to discern.

I agree we need discernment but what is it we are trying to discern?   I want to talk about why we need to discern the good, the true and the beautiful in churches, particularly Pentecostal churches because we are called to be “in this world but not of it.”  I think this means we take some aspects of culture and use them, some we reject.  We also should not do automatically the opposite of what the world does, but we need to do what the Kingdom is about.  This means in no case should we be defined by the world, either positively, taking from it, or negatively, by rejecting what it does and doing the opposite.  Instead we need to discern what is good, true and beautiful in God’s Kingdom and make sure we are supporting that in this world.

I think in terms of conversation with the emerging church people this means we are unsure what to do and where to go.  We don’t realise what is good – reaching out to people, what is true – the gospel is being preached – and the beautiful – people’s lives coming into line with God through different processes.  It is the last part that is the problem as the process is different.  The spirituality is expressed not in charismatic tongues or evangelical clichés about the Word or the blood but in a new cultural expression.

I think I could be accused of syncretism at this point, the unhealthy combining of different aspects of the culture and the gospel.  The trouble is I would have to say the same to my accuser that is how the gospel is packaged already.  So I think the emerging church people are more explicit about recognising what they are doing and have effectively deconstructed what we think of as sacred for the sake of the gospel.

Am I right?