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Ok, I need your help! I am thinking about writing my term paper for Philosophy of Religion on Philosophical Foundations of the Emergent Church. I have read quite a bit of the work of important voices in the Emergent Church (McLaren, Jones, Kimball) but I am not as confident in my understanding of the philosophers and philosophies that influence folks in the Emergent Church. In my paper, I am particularly interested in looking at issues of epistemology (concerns the origins, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge). On the Emergent account, how do we come to know God? How do we go about investigating the truth claims of a proposition? Who and what have influenced emergent understandings of these issues?

My interest in this paper is not to write an apologetic, or to attack the Emergent Church movement, rather it is to seek to understand the foundations that it is built upon better.

I would be grateful if you would post any specific books that you would recommend in the comments (again, I am not looking for books by the Emergent authors like McLaren’s Everything Must Change, but books that have deeply informed McLaren and others and are at work behind the scenes in their practical theology). I would appreciate books that might provide a general introduction to postmodern philosophy that are particularly insightful to folks in emergent, and particularly important works by actual philosophers that have influenced the emergent understanding of epistemology and answering truth claims about God.

One more request: If you don’t know, but you know someone who might have ideas, I would be grateful if you would take a second to email them and mention this post and ask them to help me out. And if you happen to have a direct contact to Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, or anyone else, you get bonus points if you get them to directly respond! (Notice how I linked to their names so that they might stumble upon my post… devious, I know…)

I think this paper could make an important contribution to understanding the Emergent Church, but my ability to undertake it will depend on being able to find some starting points for getting into the material.