Jesus said in Matthew 7 that we will recognize them by their fruit, but we’ve had a hard time letting fruit be what we are all about. The emerging movement has pressed this issue to the fore by being “post” doctrinal statements.
I’ve been frustrated by comments but even more by blogsites and websites because it is my inclination (after all I’m an academic theologian) to chase down a theological statement first when I get to the websites of the emergent churches. Rarely am I successful, and I sense they are happy about my lack of success. I had it coming.
The gospel, they like to say in their via negativa mode, is not about academic theology but practical theology; the gospel is not about doctrinal statements but about performative statements; it is not about creeds confessed but about lives lived. (These are not denials of the first half but a hierarchy of priorities. I posted about this long ago — in terms of blogtime.)
They are walking on the path of Jesus for he, too, knew that how we live tells the theology we believe better than the creed we confess.
Still, I like to know the emergent churches are continuous with the great theological creeds (and I look for a Protestant tweaking of that creedal tradition), but I’m also deeply impressed by the performative nature of their activities.
In this I think the emergent movement has got it right: theology that does not transform life for the good of others and the world is not the theology Jesus had in mind (or the life).