Why we’re not emergent (by two guys who should be) is a good read, if slighty bitty due to its two-author format (Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck each contribute alternative chapters).
The best part for me is towards the end, where Kevin relates the Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3) to our contemporary church situation.
Here’s the overview:-
Ephesus was your loveless fundamentalist church. They were orthodox, moral, and hardworking. But they didn’t love either the lost or one another. Jesus says to them, “Love.”
Smyrna was your persecuted church. They were afflicted, slandered and impoverished. But the were spiritually rich. They were vibrant, but fearful. Jesus says to them, “Be faithful.”
Pergamum was your ungrounded, youth-movement church. They were faithful, passionate witnesses. But they had compromised with the world and accommodated to their sexually immoral and idolatrous culture. They were undiscerning. Jesus says to them, “Discern.”
Thyatira was your warmhearted, liberal church, They were strong in love, faith, services, and perseverance. But they undervalued doctrinal fidelity and moral purity. They were over-tolerant. Jesus says to them, “Thnk.”
Sardis was your flashy and successful, but shallow, megachurch, full of nominal Christians. They had a great reuptation, but they were spiritually dead. Jesus says to them, “Wake up.”
Philadelphia was your small urban ghetto church. They felt weak and unimpressive. But they had kept the Word of God and not denied his name. Jesus says to them, “Press on.”
Laodicea was your ritzy, influential church. They thought they had everything. But they were spiritually poor. Jesus says to them, “Be earnest.”
Maybe traditional evangelical churches need to listen most carefully to what Jesus says to loveless Ephesus. And perhaps emerging churches need to pay special attention to what he says to undiscerning, over-tolerant Pergamum and Thyatira.
What, then, what of those who identify with the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), whose besetting sin is loveless fundamentalism?
The church at Ephesus was both doctrinally and ethically sound. ‘In fact, Jesus commended them for two virtues scarcely mentioned in the emerging church: intolerance (of false teaching) and hatred (of immorality). For all the talk in emerging churches about the supremely inclusive kingdom of God, it shouldnot escape our notice that Ephsus was not praised for their inclusion, but for their exclusion.’
But their love had grown cold. This lovelessness was not, it seems, the adulterous and idolatry of lovelessness towards God (see Jeremiah 2 and Hosea 4), but the practical lovelessness towards their neighbours. The fault wasn’t with the first great commandments, but with the second. That’s why Jesus tells them to do the works they did at first.
Lovelessness is always the great danger of the doctrinally sound. ‘They always need to be against something, always purifying something, always looking for error or inconsistency.’
So, Jesus says to Ephesus, “You hate what I hate. That’s good. But you do not love what I love.” ‘They defended the light, but they were not shining it into the dark places of the world.’
‘It is sad but true. Theologically astute churches and theologically minded pastors sometimes die of dead orthodoxy. Some grow sterile and cold, petrified as the frozen chosen, not compromising with the world, but not engaging it either. We may think right, live right, and do right, but if we do it off in a corner, shining our lights at one another to probe our brother’s sins instead of pointing our lights out into the world, we will, as a church, grow dim, and eventually our light will be extinguished.’