Not a few critics of the emerging church have charged that the emerging movement often looks like made-over liberalism. While the charge is probably overly simplistic, there is nevertheless something that rings true about it.
A recent essay by Walter Hengar in byFaith magazine explores the emerging movement’s outreach to old liberal protestantism. The essay is titled “More than a Fad: Understanding the Emerging Church.” In it Hengar writes:
Emergent leaders who are eager to reconcile with liberal Protestants may soon find they have too much in common (source).
If the Emergent Village podcasts are a reliable indicator, I would have to say that I think Hengar may be correct. In these podcasts, there is a multi-part series of interviews with Yale theologian Miroslav Volf. These interviews indicate that the impulse within the Emergent Village appears to be one of consistent protest of conservative evangelicalism and of rapproachment and identification with liberal Christianity.
If you think I am overstating the case, I would like to hear from you. But please, listen to the Emergent Village podcasts first. In the podcasts when Volf suggests that some people may be saved apart from faith in Christ, Tony Jones and company respond as if this were an open question.
When that response is held next to Jones’s gushing affection for the rest of Volf’s work, it just seems to me that Hengar might be on to something. These emergent guys may have too much in common with the liberals.