It’s time once again for the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit, at which prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates will posture and something called Right-Wing Jewelry will co-exist in the vendor hall with Brazil-based weirdos Tradition, Family, Property.
This year, the annual event will also feature a curious presentation from Art Ally, president of the Timothy Fund, an evangelical mutual fund with a portfolio of roughly $700 million worth of ostensibly Scripture-compliant company stock. Over at Religion News Service, Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that Ally is pushing the idea that there are three current threats to Christianity: Communism, Islam, and … the Emergent Church?
“Why would Satan use Communism? It’s a godless form of government,” said Ally. “Why would Satan use Islam? Same reason. It’s not a religion. It’s a movement to dominate the world under the guise of religion. The Emergent Church plays right into that by weakening further our church community.”
Huh! OK, for those of you who don’t know, the Emergent Church was a movement on the brainy fringe of evangelical Christianity back in the early Bush II years aimed at broadening churches’ focus to include things like social justice, and to revive some strands of ancient Christianity long absent from Protestantism. The emergents were also big on designing worship services that blended the old and the new (agape … and free jazz!), and for embracing certain aspects of postmodernism.
This latter feature is what engendered the hostility of people who didn’t really understand postmodernism, but at any rate, it has been a long time since the Emergent Church was a major topic of discussion within American Christianity. It’s not clear why Ally is now identifying it as a philosophical force on par with Islam and Communism (and let’s be honest; it’s been a long time since Communism was much of a force), a project that seems even more confusing when Bailey pushes him to name some examples of prominent emergent leaders:
“Ally suggested that megachurch pastors Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and recently retired pastor John Piper could be considered emergent.”
Rick Warren! Bill Hybels! Really? JOHN PIPER? John “Farewell Rob Bell” Piper? This is a little like being asked to name prominent liberals and coming up with Chris Christie, John Boehner, and John Roberts.
And yet Art Ally directs a mutual fund worth $700 million. What a world!