Notice the second “affirmation” of Emergent Village:
2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms:
We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms â€“ Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal. We practice â€œdeep ecclesiologyâ€ â€“ rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential. We believe the rampant injustice and sin in our world requires the sincere, collaborative, and whole-hearted response of all Christians in all denominations, from the most historic and hierarchical, through the mid-range of local and congregational churches, to the most spontaneous and informal expressions. We affirm both the value of strengthening, renewing, and transitioning existing churches and organizations, and the need for planting, resourcing, and coaching new ones of many kinds. We seek to be irenic and inclusive of all our Christian sisters and brothers, rather than elitist and critical, seeing â€œusâ€ we were used to see â€œus versus them.â€ We own the many failures of the church as our failures, which humbles us and calls us to repentance, and we also celebrate the many heroes and virtues of the church, which inspires us and gives us hope.
* To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation. We work in churches (as pastors, artists, lay leaders, whatever) seeking to live out authentic Christian faith in authentic Christian community.
* To seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace, and without judgment, avoiding rash statements, and repenting when harsh statements are made. To speak positively of fellow Christians whenever possible, especially those with whom we may disagree.
* To build sincere friendship with Christians from other traditions.
This is what I call a “purple ecclesiology.”
First, it humbly acknowledges that our differences are our own, not the gospel’s. It then anchors the need for a need for “deep ecclesiology” for genuine missional work to occur. (In Embracing Grace I tell a moving story about NorthBridge Church, in Antioch IL, where that church made an impact in its community through cooperation with other Christians who happened to be worshipers in a different denomination.)
Second, this affirmation has within it some confession of disunity that needs to be undone so far as possible.
Third, for all that chat I hear about the emerging movement not being part of the Church, I find an irony here at Emergent Village: one of its practices is “To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation.” Now just what that “local congregation” looks like is not the issue: it is a commitment to the Church.
Fourth, it is proactive in working with Christians who are not in “my church”: this is a positive shaping of a deep ecclesiology.
As for doctrinal statements, it is not too far to say that this second article in Emergent Village is nothing but a wondrous description of something confessed from the very beginning:
I believe in one, holy, apostolic, and catholic Church.
You needn’t those words to see its performance in this Emergent Village articulation. What matters to all of us, of course, is whether or not we are doing it.
Are we? Are you?
Perhaps if you’re a pastor you could schedule coffee with the pastors who are at the church closest to you — go ahead, even if they are monks or priests. They’ll not poke you with a cross and sling their beads at you!