An interesting book especially for those who are following the development of the emergent church movement. It helped me understand better the concerns of the emerging church movement and also its criticism. The comments from the orthodox perspective are very enlightening.
Leonard Sweet provides the introduction for this book, in which he identifies four basic approaches that churches are taking to engage the emerging postmodern culture and gathers five contemporary thinkers that cover the range of these approaches: 1) Low change in message, low change in method; 2) Low change in message, high change in method; 3) High change in message, low change in method; 4) High change in message, high change in method. Michael Horton and Frederica Matthewes-Green represent the first position; Horton approaches the issue from the standpoint of classic Reformed theology, while Matthewes-Green looks through the lens of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Erwin Raphael McManus is presented as taking the second approach, and focuses on the necessity of leading people into relationship with Christ, which he believes requires innovative methods in the present ever-shifting culture. Andy Crouch represents the third approach, and emphasizes the continuing importance of practicing the sacraments of baptism and communion as the primary foci for the worship of the church. Brian McLaren espouses the fourth approach, arguing that major changes in culture require that we re-examine both our theology and practices to ensure that we are properly contextualizing the gospel for the current cultural climate. (The book never actually tells us which author is taking which position, but I think Ive got them straight.)An innovative element of the book is that each of the five contributors is invited to comment on each others work, and the comments are included in the text as you read through the book. Each author was also given the opportunity to respond to these comments in a rejoinder following their own essay. Though this format sometimes makes it difficult to follow the line of argument, on the whole I found it to be useful, as it lends a sense of an ongoing conversation. Stimulating reading for pastors and educated laypeople.