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Bakker fell into alcohol and drug abuse. But eventually he and a group of friends formed a Revolution church in Arizona in 1994 — considered among the first emerging churches in the country. He established another in Atlanta, which operated from 1998 to 2006.
Since then, Bakker has been a pastor at Revolution in New York. For now, he says that location will keep going under the leadership of his co-pastor while he starts a new congregation in Minneapolis.
Gerardo Marti, a sociology professor at Davidson College who’s writing a book about the emerging Christian movement, said Bakker attracts attention because of his parents but has also made a name for himself.
Opposite of megachurch
“Jay Bakker has become the antithesis to the seeker megachurch,” Marti said. “The emergent church movement is a reaction to what many perceive to be the excesses of conventional Christianity.
“On the one side, I think it speaks against the large megachurches. But I also think it targets what they perceive as an apathy and rote religion that exists in the mainline [Protestant churches].”
Tony Jones, a theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in south Minneapolis, one of the most prominent emerging churches in the country, is close friends with Bakker and believes his brand of Christianity will be attractive in the Twin Cities.
“Jay has had every reason to leave the church,” Jones said. “He has every reason in the world to quit Christianity, to never look back. But he has come back. He was the prodigal son. He dropped out of high school, he got into all sorts of drugs and alcohol, got a lot of those tattoos during his sojourn away from Christianity. But I think he just couldn’t ignore the calling in his life.
In Bakker’s latest book, “Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed,” he writes about his doubts about the existence of God and where he is now on his faith journey.
“Doubt is something that needs to be embraced with faith, because doubt is an element of faith,” Bakker said. “Faith is not fact. It’s like hope.
“My faith was gone and I didn’t know what to do ... and [when it came back] what happened was my faith became bigger. To me it’s mind-boggling and beautiful, and I can’t even begin to know what it is.”
Rose French • 612-673-4352