So why shouldn't a church try to be able to relate to pop-culture? After all, this blog is written for a church web-site, and both of those things are part of contemporary culture. The problem is not finding a way to communicate the truth to pop-culture. The problem is keeping pop-culture from influencing the truth which is communicated.
Before we go any further we need to identify some terms using the Webster's 1828 dictionary:
Doctrine -- "...whatever is taught; a principle or position in any science; whatever is laid
down as true by an instructor or master"
Dogma -- "a settled opinion; a principle; a doctrinal notion"
Tradition -- "the transmission of opinions or practice from forefathers to descendants"
What is at stake in the matter of the Emergent church is not just a different methodology, but rather an abandoning of Doctrine, Dogma, and Tradition. Most people would agree that Doctrine is important, but through misuse the other two words have developed a connotation which allows people to deem them as not only un-necessary, but even somehow evil. Part of the basis of the Emergent Church movement is leaving traditional ideas and methods out of church. Much of this thinking is rooted in the seeker sensitive movement. This idea of taking the established and accepted form and format of worship and changing it to appease people who don't normally participate is misguided. When a person is truly hungry, and seeks nourishment, they don't go to the provider and demand a change to the diet.
In the matter of Doctrine we believe that Jesus established His church while here on Earth. Matthew 16:13-19 "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." He then instructed His Apostles in His doctrine and gave them authority to lead His Church. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit empowered the church and enabled them to begin fulfilling the Great Commission. This work, under the Apostles leadership and supervision, progressed from Jerusalem to Antioch and beyond because of the missions work of the Apostle Paul and others. The doctrine they taught, however, remained true to what Jesus gave them and was based on their authority from Christ.
Today, thanks to the Divine preservation of the Word of God we know the accuracy of our doctrine compared to the Apostles doctrine. Acts 2:41-42 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." II Timothy 3:14-17 "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. Doctrine is not based on tradition. Neither is it subject to the vagaries of culture. doctrine is based on Scripture. Rather than doctrine being manipulated to conform to society, society and culture should be transformed by doctrine!
The Emergent Church and the seeker sensitive movement attempt to relate to pop-culture through the compromise, shifting, and outright abandonment of sound doctrine. II John 1:8-11 "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." It is the responsibility of local churches to guard against this moving away from sound doctrine.