Readers may be confused over the use of “emergent” and “emerging” in popular media. No wonder. McLaren himself has admitted that “I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated.” In A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren adds that “shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity.”
Despite this lack of precision, Mark Driscoll suggests that evangelicals may rightly describe themselves as part of the “emerging church movement.” In Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Driscoll claims that “the emergent church is part of the Emerging Church Movement but does not embrace the dominant theology of the movement. Rather, the emergent church is the latest version of liberalism.” (Read carefully here!)
In offering this distinction, Driscoll further states, “I myself swim in the theologically conservative stream of the emerging church.” And he suggests that those who embrace this terminology should “define whether it is an emerging evangelical church or an emergent liberal church.”
Perhaps Driscoll’s distinction would garner more sympathy if his “emerging church” label had any stable definition itself. In particular, the Internet generation may be stymied when searching on wikipedia.org, where the “emerging church” entry changes at least once a week.