What is the Emerging Church going to call itself whenever it has finally emerged? The question is ignored by most in the movement, but it is a valid question. Emergents argue that they are always changing, reforming, adapting, learning, and engaging in the ongoing conversation. But is this really the case? After reading Doug Pagitt's book, "A Christianity Worth Believing In: Hope-Filled, Open-Armed, Alive and Well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind, Let Down in Us All," it sounds to me that Emergents are changing, engaging, learning, adapting, and questioning, but rather are stagnant and saying the same things over and over again.
Pagitt offers nothing new here. I have read enough of the Emerging Church to already know what each book is about. Now it seems that as the volumes of books, blogs, articles, interviews, radio shows, sermons, and lectures increases, they are saying the same thing. This book is nothing more than what has already been said.
Pagitt, as the title suggests, sets out to present the reader with a Christian faith that is worth believing and practicing. He does so by stripping the faith down to a point that there isn't much to believe. Pagitt denies original sin, redefines the meaning of sin, rejects depravity, says nothing positive regarding penal substitution, and defines the Kingdom of God is almost exlcusively as being present, thus leaving the read to think that the Kingdom of God is a social gospel movement.
Am I appalled? Of course. But I am certainly not surprised. I have heard this before. What Pagitt offers is a systematic theology, even though they hate systematic theologies, of Emerging Church beliefs. The gospel to them is something we do. We enter into a relationship with Jesus. We give up fighting and retaliating like Jesus on the cross. We leave the world better than we left it. Yada. Yada. Yada.
So should you read this book? If you want to. If you have read nothing or very little about or from the Emerging Church, then this would be a descent place to start. But if you have any extensive knowledge of the movement, this might be a good review of what you already know and have read. This books advantage is that it is written by a major leader in the Emergent movement.
But if you want a faith worth believing in, you won't find it here. Not a chance.