Rick Warren and the Emerging Church
The emerging church movement has gained the support of many Christian leaders. Rick Warren is one of those leaders who has actually helped to launch the movement. In Dan Kimball's popular book, The Emerging Church, Rick Warren wrote the foreword and said:
This book is a wonderful, detailed example of what a purpose-driven church can look like in a postmodern world.... Dan's book explains how to do it [reach an "emerging generation"] with the cultural-creatives who think and feel in postmodern terms. You need to pay attention to him [Kimball] because times are changing.Kimball's book describes different methods to reach this generation,including the use of "practicing silence, and lectio divina [a form of contemplative prayer]." Kimball reinforces his promotion of the silence on his "Vintage Faith" website in an article he wrote titled "A-Maze-ing Prayer," which promotes the use of the labyrinth as a way of "Meeting God in the middle." The labyrinth, used in ancient days, is a maze-like structure, which was originally designed to connect with God mystically. As participants walk through the labyrinth (sometimes called a prayer walk or prayer path), chanting words or phrases (centering down), the idea is that by the time they have centered their souls,they will reach the center of the labyrinth. Dan Kimball expresses his admiration for the labyrinth, saying:
Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations. If we had the room, we would set up a permanent labyrinth to promote deeper prayer.
In the back of The Emerging Church, under the recommended resources section, Kimball lists several books written by contemplatives. Some of these include Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli, In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen, Book of Uncommon Prayer by Steve Case, and Four Views of the Church in Postmodern Culture by Leonard Sweet. All of these authors share one thing in common—the belief that we need the silence to draw close to God, and that silence is reached through contemplative prayer. Not only did Rick Warren write the foreword to Kimball's book, but in random spots throughout Kimball's book, he has written sidebar commentaries—seventeen of them to be exact. Of his commentaries, only one was negative and that was over a minor point. Nowhere in the book is there any indication that Warren was not in full support of Kimball's views. Warren made comments such as:
* "This book is a wonderful detailed example..."
* "Thank you so much for sharing your background, Dan ... Go for it."
* "This is so important!"
"An outstanding chapter, Dan!" The question must be asked, is
Rick Warren promoting and endorsing the emerging church movement?
This is a valid question considering the fact that the emerging
church movement is immersed in contemplative spirituality and
other metaphysical practices, with most of its leaders promoting
a panentheistic spirituality. Certainly, by writing the foreword
to the emerging church signature book, it would be safe to assume
the answer is yes!
This is an excerpt from A Time of Departing, pp. 155-156.
For related information:
Commentary by Jane Whiting, on Dan Kimball's A-Maze-ing Prayer