My good friend, and both excellent evangelist and author, Garry Poole, invited me to a luncheon with Brian McLaren.
He spoke about seven levels of involvement in the emerging conversation (he made it clear that it is not an emerging “church” but more of a conversation that has as one of its goals more unity among churches).
1. A cosmetic level of church growth: grunge music.
2. How to evangelize 20-somethings (18 to 35 is his number I think).
3. Didn’t get this one; I think he may have skipped it.
4. Culture and gospel interaction.
5. Worship and liturgy as a deeper reflection of culture and gospel.
6. What is the gospel itself?
7. A holistic kingdom gospel.
Well, of course, I was ready to jump and act charismatic (or as I see it on the internet all the time, the “charasmatics”), but contained myself. For, I too, think the issue is about how to define the gospel.
A gospel that defines sin as simply judicial leads to an atonement that is simply judicial and a Christian life that is a “standing”, while I think the work of God is about transforming and that leads to an atonement that is transforming and a view of sin that is more than judicial but is relational. Well, that is what Embracing Grace is about.
Brian also spoke about “doing church” as (1) civil religion and (2) in an isolated, more sectarian, form, and suggested that the emerging church has a new option (3). He didn’t give it a term, so I will: “Purple ecclesiology.”
It was fun. I asked him about the 8th level of emerging, whether it was better for the Cubs or O’s to have Sosa, but most didn’t seem to know he was from Baltimore.