It’s been a long day. I got up early, went to a prayer meeting with some wonderful pastors and leaders, had a breakfast, spoke my heart out to these same pastors and leaders, had lunch, two hours of driving and then a flight back to Chicago from Omaha. Had a great time, but am committed to saying something intelligent tonight even if my mind isn’t cooperating.
I’d like to take a look at Emergent Village’s “Order” or “Rule” as something for us to think about and discuss — this for me is an alternative to the current use of doctrinal statements today.
Members of emergent hold in common four values and practices that flow from them. In the language of a religious order, we call these four values our order and rule:
1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus:
We are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God, as the Scriptures teach. In the words of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving our neighbors â€“ including those who might be considered â€œthe least of theseâ€ or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered in Jesus and his message of the kingdom of God, a message of reconciliation with God and among humanity.
We are committed to a â€œgenerous orthodoxyâ€ in faith and practice â€“ affirming the historic Christian faith and the Biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. We embrace historic spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence, service, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.
*As Christ-centered people, to understand the gospel in terms of Jesusâ€™ radical, profound, and expansive message of the kingdom of God.
*As people seeking to be formed spiritually in the way of Christ, to learn historic Christian spiritual practices (disciplines), and to use them for the development of character, integrity, and virtue which flow from true communion with God.
*As participants in the historic Christian faith, to be humble learners and to stimulate learning in others, and to give priority to love over knowledge, while still valuing knowledge.
* As lovers of God and Godâ€™s truth, to seek wisdom and understanding, which are the true goal of theology, and to engage in respectful, thoughtful, sacred conversation about God, world, and church.
Here are some observations.
First, I’ve been asked a number of times why the emerging folk don’t have creeds or confessions or doctrinal statements. In fact, if they belong to Emergent Village, they commit themselves to the “historic Christian faith.” (Well, I say to myself, I wonder what that might mean, but those three words to me mean the creedal confessions of the orthodox Church.)
Second, this commitment to healthy theology being intertwined with healthy spirituality I find to be very important, consistent with NT teaching, and a needed point of view in the world in which we live. Theology is not some neutral, objective reality out there which we can then simply “apply” to our lives. The two are intertwined, and this admits it.
Third, notice the upfront and unequivocal orthopraxy emphasis of Emergent Village. It moves from Micah to the Jesus Creed to the Kingdom vision of Jesus. Then they are committed to the historic Christian faith and then to the spiritual disciplines.
Fourth, I do like the Practices they advocate.
I’ll post tomorrow on part two, but this can be found at Emergent Village, just as surely as I will be found sleeping very soon.