Book Review: Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck, Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) (Chicago: Moody, 2008)

Why We're Not Emergent is quite a quick and easy read ( I did, after all, come to it directly from Fesko's tome on Justification). I read it in two evenings and thoroughly enjoyed it. I mention my enjoyment because, on such a touchy subject as the emergent church, enjoyment was not at all what I expected. I think that's the real genius of this format. DeYoung and Kluck write alternate chapters, so there is a continual swapping of style and content. Kevin DeYoung writes as a theologian; his chapters offer theological analysis and critique. Ted Kluck, on the other hand, writes as a journalist; he reports interviews, visits to churches and events, personal impressions, etc. The alternation of authors and styles left me always ready to go on to the next chapter.

Both Kluck and DeYoung fit into the right demographic for the emergent church, yet neither is following their peers to emergent pastures. Obviously in 256 pages they can't examine every aspect of emergent thought or every emergent author/blogger/spokesman, yet they do a great job in boiling the matter down to essentials. At the end of the day, the whole issue is one of theology, not style. As a result, DeYoung engages the emergents over the knowability of God, the authority of Scripture, the necessity of doctrine, and the identity of Jesus. In addition to these theological issues he also looks at emergent claims about modernism. Kluck looks at such matters as Velvet Elvis, tolerance, an emergent music festival, an emergent music festival, a visit to Rob Bell's church, and why he doesn't want a cool pastor.

All in all it's a great introduction to get you thinking about some of the important issues at stake. DeYoung and Kluck manage to introduce and critique the emergent church without disintegrating into the semi-intelligible postmodern philosophical jargon which seems to be in vogue among many of the emergent writers, because at the end of the day it's not about postmodern philosophy; you don't need to have written a dissertation on Derrida or Foucault to understand the issues at stake. Why not? Simply because ultimately it all comes down to theology, and more specifically to the authority of Scripture.

DeYoung and Kluck stand for the authority of Scripture, and so, even if they are of the requisite age and socio-economic status, they aren't emergent.

If you're suddenly encountering the ideas of the emergent church, this book is the place to go for a concise (and very readable), Biblical response.