Too many emerging church leaders nurse too many self-deceptions. And we find one of the most alarming fallacies in our "freedom from old ways of thinking." We claim "a radically different mind set, value system, and worldview,"1 but the facts prove otherwise. We profess craving the future, but we’re still controlled by the past. We talk big about the "big picture," but we still buy into history’s heresies.

Here’s an example:

Too many emerging leaders blindly embrace a Greek "Christianity" where faith is an "idea"—nothing more, nothing less. Like early Greek theologians, they still filter the Gospel through formula, analysis, theory and conjecture. Philosophical dialogue, in fact, defines the movement. In their own words, truth is "a complex philosophical, epistemological question."2

Perhaps we shouldn’t blame them. After all, modernity has always been more Greek than Christian. (Consider, for example, our college curricula.) Yet, we must blame them, for the emerging church claims to be "postmodern." Indeed, the movement exists primarily to protest modernism!

So how can its leaders avoid the fact they are more modern than postmodern? How can they avoid the reality they are even hypermodern? And, how can they avoid the naked truth of an "enlightened" learning that is not only "skeptical" but superskeptical?

In other words, how can they go on blindly squeezing the last drop of blood out of already dead cadavers.

Future historians will surely call this a "scandal."

Emerging church leaders frequently use modern thinking, for example, to criticize modern thinking. They often parade effective language to communicate the ineffectiveness of language. And, they even manipulate others against the deceit of being manipulated by others.

Only their style is different.

Yet, this mess emerges from more than modernity. For our ancient Greek legacy is totally incompatible with the ancient Hebrews. Greek minds and Hebraic consciousness held vastly different realities. Nowhere, for example, does Scripture get even close to a philosophical discussion.

So with our Greek "knowing," we’ve lost Hebrew "knowing"—with our knowledge "about" God, we’ve lost knowledge "of" God—with our disclosure of God, we’ve lost God’s disclosure to us. With our cold abstractions, we’ve lost lived moments—with our "ahistorical" God, we’ve lost the Lord of History—and with our right "thinking," we’ve lost right "living."

With our Greek God of "fate," we no longer have the Hebrew God of faith—with our impersonal God, we no longer have a personal God—with our passive faith, we no longer have a proactive faith.

With our disembodied wisdom, we no longer have embodied wisdom—with our refusal of feelings, we no longer have felt meanings—and with our theological systems, we no longer have paradox, enigma, or the significance of signs.

In short, the bending of the Gospel into a Greek world is the story of Western Christianity. And, within this story, our Greek "souls" have solemnly preserved our racial amnesia—our collective unconscious.

"Isn’t it wonderful that God is just like us?"

Yet, these wrong assumptions happen at the wrong moment. For an old structure of knowledge is fading, and its emerging "Greek" leaders are fading with it. In a massive shift, ancient epistemology and classical theology are being left behind. Already, we live in an age of theological "anarchy," and an altered future won’t make sense even to the anarchists!

All of us parade this fallacy. But the tools that achieved results in the last era will not attain results in the next era. In other words, we won’t be able to drag modernity into the postmodern world. The passive words of "pure" spectators—the logical, linear rules of academic "think tanks"—and the theological veracity of cold and calculating brains will never pass the inevitable baggage screens.

The future belongs to a new way of thinking, a new way of knowing what we know. It will return us to an oral culture—or rather, an electronic oral culture. Creativity, artistry, and empathy—metaphor, meaning, and emotion—pattern, synthesis, and the big picture will prove the lingua franca of the future. Spontaneity, fluidity, and open-endedness will release its revelations. And, its empowered "words" will actually "do things"—will anticipate and summon things—will break into the present and transform things.

In short, we will no longer be "thinking" in the usual sense of the word. For the new spirituality is "unthinkable." Instead, we will be projecting a new world.

© 2010 Thomas Hohstadt


1. Andrew Jones, quoted in Tim Conder, The Church in Transition: The Journey of Existing Churches in the Emerging Culture (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2006) pp 22, 25.

2. Tony Jones, quoted in Peter Walker and Tyler Clark, "Missing the Point?" Relevant Magazine, Issue 21, July-August, 2006, pp 70-74.

Future Church Administrator