Deep Church. Jim Belcher.


I stumbled across the link to The Deep Church on the Inter-webs, and the words on the front page struck a chord…

Feel caught between the traditional church and the emerging church? Discover a third way: deep church. C. S. Lewis used the phrase “deep church” to describe the body of believers committed to mere Christianity. Unfortunately church in our postmodern era has been marked by a certain shallowness.

After reading it, I feel like I have found what I have been looking for, even though I could not pinpoint exactly what it was I was looking before before having read it.  (Does that make sense?)  In several recent posts I have lamented the fact of apparent shallowness in the area in terms of doctrine, so the words above definitely caught my attention.

What is funny is that my pre-conception of “The Emerging Church”was way off.  I had assumed it was the large, mega-church movement with contemporary worship services.  However, that is not it at all… It is a movement that criticizes the traditional church in seven key areas (Captivity to Enlightenment rationalism, a narrow view of salvation, belief before belonging, uncontextualized worship, ineffective preaching, weak ecclesiology, and Tribalism). I will not get into those seven criticisms here — you should read the book for that — other than to say that I found, as I read the details of each, that I shared some aspects of the criticisms myself.

Belcher takes the time to expand on each criticism thoroughly, but then points out where he feels the emerging church (sometimes) goes too far.  I again found myself agreeing with him on many many points — while I share the views of the issues the emerging folks see with the traditional church, I also agree with Belcher’s view on just about every point where he thinks they over do it.

The main purpose of the book is to define a third way, beyond traditional and emerging.  Of course there is no way to summarize the entire book, but one of the basic tenets  is agreeing on the foundations of the faith as outlined in the early creeds, and letting everything else slide a little.  We have tried to follow this principle of primary vs. secondary doctrine with Haw River Christian Academy, and I strongly feel it is always the way to go.

I have started using Evernote to keep my reading notebook (it’s a great service!  keeps my notes synced to the cloud and I can get to them via any computer or my phone, changes sync automagically, etc.)  I have a tremendous amount of notes from this book.  That means a couple of things — there are either great quotes or there are passages that really make me think, and I want to be able to come back to them.

Both fit here…

  • “There is a depth in the ancient church that is very up to date.”  [ and therefore it is worth honoring the tradition of the old church…\
  • “The Enlightenment quest for certainty based on unassailable reason and science is a dead end… It cannot be pulled off.  It has never been done.”  [We (those of us currently alive) are all children of the Enlightenment, and therefore Children of Reason, and that is so difficult to put aside..  But it needs to be in questions of faith.  Not that you can’t use logic and reasoning in apologetic argumentation, but that there are sometimes things that go beyond just that…]
  • “the next day I contacted the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) … I enquired about church planting.”  [this one stands out because so many CCS schools are backed by PCA churches!  And PCA just keeps coming up in strange places, yet there is no PCA church here…  :-/ ]
  • “oh you are describing Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC…”  [This also stood out as I had just read two Tim Keller books, and his church is also PCA…]
  • “We train our members to read discerningly, to think for themselves and to be enriched by other traditions even as they dig deep in the soil of their own tradition.”   [ nice to hear! ]
  • “Hermeneutical Circle”  truth neither starts with knowledge that leads to faith nor with faith that leads to knowledge.  How do we get into this circle?  The starting point lies beyond us, with the Holy Spirit who places us inside the faith – knowledge circle…

I guess that is good for now.  I highly recommend the book for anyone that has never felt 100% at home at their church, and even if you do feel at home, I think this book could provide growth opportunities none-the-less.

3 thoughts on “Deep Church. Jim Belcher.

  1. waiting for someone to loan me his copy so that i might enjoy this book as well. . . . . . .

    good thoughts, and i am looking forward to the read for sure.

  2. In re-reading this, “letting it slide” is probably a poor choice of words… I only mean that in areas of secondary doctrine, we all need to have the humility to know that we do not know it all, and/or that others are at different stages of their journey. If we agree on the primary, it is ok to agree to disagree on the secondary.

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