Church in the Present Tense: A candid look at what’s Emerging ( Brazos Press)

By Scot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin Corcoran, Jason Clark

This oddly titled book comprises thoughtful reflections by four theologians sympathetic to trends in thinking about The Gospel and the Church that have been labelled ‘Emerging Church’.

There is no single Emerging Church approach, but the label covers those who, since the 1990s, have rejected much traditional theology and church practise in favour of a more Jesus focused way of being Christian in a postmodern world. Each writer takes two chapters to explore themes apposite to their experience.

Most will benefit from the excellent and accessible essays by Scot McKnight (on Scripture and the atonement) and Jason Clark (on consumerism and liturgy). McKnight’s ‘Atonement and Gospel’,  critiques classic looks at what the cross achieved and gives a compelling, and for some, surprising insight into the Gospel that the apostles preached. Clark’s look at consumerism is a reminder that innovators in this field are still prey to the forces around them.

The essays by Rollins (worldly theology and transformance art) and Corcoran (philosophical realism and emerging eschatology) are harder work with Corcoran’s philosophy essay really only for those with their basic theology intact, a grasp of philosophy,  and prepared to do some hard thinking.

An accompanying dvd helps those unfamiliar with the material, including interviews with all the authors except Mcknight;  others such as Jonny Baker, Brian McLaren, and Rowan Williams; and some footage from emerging church gatherings.

Of most value for those who know of the movement, but even newcomers to the theme will receive some benefit.