Scot McKnight has an excellent post on how the emerging church views the Bible, which is different than traditional evangelicalism. Scot explains better than I could, but in a nutshell, the traditional evangelical view says that because we have Scripture and we know it’s absolutely true, we can know what God is like by referring to Scripture. The emerging church view says that because we know Jesus’ teachings, we know what Jesus is like and therefore what God is like, and the Scripture is given to aid in this purpose.
I’m adding to what Scot says so I hope I’ve not gone off-base… but in the traditional evangelical view, if the authority of Scripture is undermined, you have nothing because you’ve lost your means of knowing God is true. In the emerging view, if the authority of Scripture is undermined, you only have Jesus, but you have a barrier to understanding the exact words of his teachings. For this reason, the emerging view may see inerrancy as a non-critical doctrine, which can tend to make the traditional evangelical set reach for the matches and kindling. But from the emerging viewpoint, inerrancy is perhaps not such a huge deal, as long as the overal tone or nature of Jesus’ teachings is preserved, which is possible without claiming absolute inerrancy.
We might sum it up by saying that if traditional evangelicalism attempts to understand God and how we are to live by considering the Bible, the emerging view attempts to understand God and how we are to live by considering the life of Jesus first and foremost. Given that John uses the metaphor of the Word for Jesus, we might try and reason that this gulf is not that wide… but it really is a hugely different approach to Christianity.
In fact, the emerging view will tend to approach Scripture by asking how Jesus might apply it. Coincidentally, but in a timely fashion, Paul Fromont has devised a set of questions for approaching Scripture with the specific intent of looking at it through missional eyes. On the subject of being missional as the primary call of the church, we return to Scot McKnight, who offers his thoughts on the subject, saying, “The emergent movement’s strongest asset and its clear prophetic voice is around this idea: the purpose of the Church, the local church, is to be a missional community.”