It’s been a few years since the talk of the town, the Emergent church, has had its moment in the sun. In fact I was kind of wondering what has ever happened to my old postmodernist friends. Nature abhors a vacuum, so obviously they’re not gone.
I think what has happened is that our coffee shop hopping, anti-establishment youth have gained a few years, a few pounds, and possibly even a few offspring. And with that the regular trips to Starbucks to moan about the failures of the evangelical church have all but evaporated due in no small part to the demands of the real world. So the emergents are now doing what was considered unthinkable even 5 years ago.
They’re going back to church.
Normally I’d kick my feet up, have a root beer, clap my hands and say, “Bravo! The last horse finally makes it to the finish!” because I’m just a classy kind of guy who is magnanimous in victory. But instead of coming back to orthodoxy…which is what I was expecting…it seems instead that the postmodernist has thwarted me once more and is firmly establishing what is probably best described as the New Church of Oprah.
Oprah as we all know, always had a warm, fuzzy solution. Happiness. Self-Awareness. Obama. The advice was seemingly profound, yet when put into practice had the consistency of the manure it was made of.
For example…find something you love and do it. Great advice huh? Unless you understand that nobody will be left to change the urinal cakes, sell live bait or get Oprah her morning paper should the masses pursue that enlightenment. Also, tell that advise to a Sudanese prostitute trying to feed her children. Stupid advice for a spoiled nation.
Now the postmodern church is following the same path. Sermons that preach broad topics like loving some loosely defined deity, love your neighbor, and the ever popular social-gospel are a hit. Rob Bell gives the doctrine of Hell the thumbs down because it doesn’t “feel” good and is bad for church business…and he sells a zillion books! In the mad dash to be all things to all people, the truth has been exchanged for palatability. And in the event you think these churches are hard up for cash, they usually boast a full sized gymnasium and a coffee bar. The Church of Oprah has literally become the epitome of everything postmodernists claimed they despised about evangelicals. If you want a church that talks about sexual morality, the sanctity of life or even opens a Bible, you may have to do some shopping.
If there’s any good news to be had from this, it’s that occasionally these churches have a spectacular self-destruct sequence straight out of Star Trek. The Crystal Cathedral…which symbolizes everything that is disgusting about wealthy American Christendom…finally got the stun-bullet to the centre of the forehead that it has long had coming. As we speak, it’s unconscious body is now on the conveyor belt to make cheap luncheon meat.
So for now the Emergent church has morphed into the unwitting followers of Oprah-style theology. Following her creeds, obeying her laws and reading her books. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll even give the role of Archbishop to Dr. Phil…king of the quacks.
So while Oprah dispenses the sermons, Rob Bell the theology and Brian McLaren provides the hot dogs, it indeed seems that there is no shortage of people flocking to hear these people in the newly created church that is every bit the lame dog that the evangelical church was accused of being. Welcome. Have a latte and enjoy the one hour pep-talk at the newest church on the block. The New Church of Oprah.