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Jesus Creed

Blogs to come: Emergent Ecclesiology

With all my speaking in various places of late, I’ve had a hard time getting to the next topic I’d like to blog, namely, the “ecclesiology of the Emergent movement.” It would be foolhardy to think anything like an extensive coverage could be blogged, so what I want to do is to take a fair look at Doug Pagitt’s “Reimagning Spiritual Formation” and try to draw out some of the central concerns of the Emergent churches and how they “do church” (which expression, as I’ve said, is not particularly good English).

I’m hoping to get to this soon, but I’ll be heading for the Seattle area for speaking engagements Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, so any sort of blogging may be dependent on finding some time for computer work and away from seeing the Pacific NW for the first time.


After looking at DA Carson’s examination of the Emergent Church’s epistemology by focusing on Brian McLaren’s epistemology, and after commenting several times myself that the Emergent movement is more than an epistemology (and even then I think the focus of that epistemology is less with a concern for the “fact” of Truth than with the ability of humans to “articulate” that Truth — which is to say, it’s epistemic concern is with the “linguistic turn”), it seems only fair to put up or shut up: namely, take a look at the ecclesiology.

To be sure, it is almost unfair to speak of an “ecclesiology” — not only because it diverges from one church to another (which is what the Emergent movement especially is keen to let happen) but also because it would be unfair to suggest that a few of its leaders got together and came up with some rational ecclesiology to work out in a postmodern setting. The process is more dialectical, but let me give a stab at it by looking again at Doug Pagitt’s book and see what we get.

I have been very encouraged by the number of you who have e-mailed and encouraged this endeavor.

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Bob Robinson

posted April 25, 2005 at 7:36 pm

While I think an analysis of Paggit’s book would be good, it would be (as you suggest) a gross understatement that in doing so you would be even scratching the surface of an Emerging ecclesiology. Paggit’s church is emerging in that it is indeed so idiosyncratic. I thought the book was great–it made you think in new ways about how to create church in each and every idiosyncracy out there. Anybody thinking that emergent is all about being an artsy-urban-sit-on-a-couch church would be missing the point.(of course you know this)My point is that the value of the book is its idiosyncracies. Doug is a very different kind of guy, Solomon’s porch is a very different kind of church.

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bill bean

posted April 25, 2005 at 8:39 pm

This should be interesting. Let me simply say that emergent ecclesiology may be as diverse as ecclesiology in general.It might be good to look at the ways in which emerging churches are developing or reexaming their way of doing church. I’m thinking the questions they are asking are similar though the conclusions are differing.

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posted April 26, 2005 at 5:12 am

perhaps you can identify some common threads that run through the divergent ecclesiologies and evaluate how those threads lead to the the diversity we see?

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Scot McKnight

posted April 26, 2005 at 5:23 am

Bob, I’ll use Pagitt as an avenue into the discussion rather than try to survey the varieties. There is something crysal-clear about Solomon’s Portch that expresses what is going on in the Emergent movement.

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posted April 26, 2005 at 10:12 am

And take note also of a thread at ALLELON on this topic.. interesting because the originators are pointing to the shared elements of Anglican and Vineyard polity..

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posted April 26, 2005 at 11:43 am

I am quite eager to read your thoughts on Pagitt’s work. Long before I had even heard of him, or Solomon’s Porch, we had been experimenting with many, if not most, of the things described in “Reimagining Spiritual Formation”. When I first read Doug’s book, it was like reading our own history and thought processes. I enjoyed Dan Kimball’s “The Emerging Church”, but it was like Pagitt was readig my mail!So I look forward to your thoughts, as they aren’t just intellectual conjecture for me, but hopefully a helpful insight and critique of my own (emerging) ecclesiology.

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Sivin Kit

posted April 26, 2005 at 8:25 pm

I’m looking forward to see you engagement with “emergent ecclesiology”I’ve been thinking a lot about ecclesiology the past three days as I brainstorm ideas for my part-time Masters prog.

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