Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


What is the Emerging Church? Protest

posted by xscot mcknight

Whatever the Emerging Movement is, it is clearly a protest movement. Sometimes it can appear to be cranky, but there is substance and there is focus in what the Emerging Movement is protesting. And, though sometimes the resolutions fall flat or fail to materialize or collapse into the unworkable, there are genuine resolutions being worked out.
What is the Emerging Movement protesting? Let me count the ways.
That’s not an attempt to be funny: there is a list of at least ten items the Emerging Movement is protesting, and most would agree that it has its finger on some hot buttons. And let it be said that its primary focus in protestation is the evangelical movement and, sometimes but not always, the mega-churches that so clearly define and set the tone for the evangelical movement.
First, it protests too much tom-fakery in traditional churches. This generation of Christians is not as capable or interested in putting up fronts when it comes to “church” or when it gathers. Instead, it prefers a higher level of honesty. (Now the older generation would contend that hanging out dirty laundry is not advisable, while this generation is not so sanguine about the desire to protect.) Let me give one example: most evangelical Christians don’t pray. (Stats show this.) Neither do they read their Bibles as often as they claim. (Stats also show this.) The Emerging Movement doesn’t want this hidden in non-confession but wants it out in the open — and then it might even ask if reading the Bible is making a difference or if praying “works.” It likes to ask these sorts of questions.
Second, it denounces the divisions in the Church. Why there needs to be so many kinds of Baptists or free church types or so many others kinds of churches is becoming more and more incomprehensible to the emerging generation. If the gospel is what it is supposed to be, if Jesus prayed for us to be “at one,” and if we are supposed to be able to do things together, why not worship together? And, it denounces such divisions as much by raiding the entire Church tradition as anything else: increasingly the emerging generation finds things it likes in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions — things that were “no no”s to a previous generation.
Third, it sees cock-sure certainty as a cancer. I will touch on this origins for this tomorrow in my post on postmodernity, but the emerging generation does not find certaintist expressions as amenable as less certaintist expressions — even when the same thing can be said in different ways. Certainty denies the frailty of humans, the limitations of our own minds, the need for conversation and relationship and communal growth, and it sets itself up for collapse the minute a more complete grasp of knowledge is found.
Fourth, it refuses to separate action from articulation. If the older evangelical generation found doctrinal statements the chief way of setting up boundaries, the Emerging Movement wants to see one’s articulation expressed by one’s action. “By their fruits, ye shall know them…” (I fell into some KJV language, but the point is the same.)
Fifth, it wants individualism absorbed into incorporation: that is, the Emerging Movement encourages personal redemption but solo-Christianity is not what Jesus wants. He wants to form communities of faith not individual Christians. (By the way, this is not a false dichotomy; it is ancient form of hierarchy.) The Emerging Movement will ask as much about how a community’s spiritual formation comes about as how individuals are being formed. (So my current poll will soon find an emerging complement.)
Sixth, the Emerging Movement’s mindset is against marketing the gospel. It is the simplistic packaging of the gospel, so it is sometimes said, that causes so many problems in the Church today, so the gospel needs to be presented and performed in such a way that its rugged realities are clear in the summons to join in the work of God in our world today.
Seventh, the Emerging Movement despises the idea that Church is what takes place on Sunday Morning, between 11 and noon. Sunday morning, if it is at that time or another time, is when the Church gathers to worship and share life, but the work of the Church is what occurs during the week as the local community of faith performs the gospel. Frankly, for many, stomach flu breaks out when they think of the ornateness and the elaborateness and the expense of Sunday morning services.
Eighth, the Emerging Movement rejects the hierarchy and pyramid structure of many churches. Authority is in God — Father, Son, Spirit — and not in the pastor or the elders or the board of deacons. Scripture, it must be seen, is an expression of God’s authority and not an independent authority. The very notion that one needs pastoral approval for one’s calling or one’s promptings or what one is permitted to do many find unconscionably usurping of God’s authority.
Ninth, the social gospel cannot be separated from the spiritual gospel. The Emerging Movement combines the Liberal social gospel with the Evangelical spiritual gospel and comes up with something that is neither Liberal nor Evangelical. To use my words (and you can trace this in my Emerging Movement Category in the sidebar), it wants a “purple gospel.” It is not so much a denial of either but a combination of both. (There’s a big difference in those two ideas.)
Tenth, the Emerging Movement wants to be Worldly. Not in the Johannine sense or in the Pauline sense, but in the Kingdom sense: it knows that God is working to restore the entire creation into an expression of his glory and so it summons everyone to participate in the grant work of God to restore and redeem. It embraces culture and state and politics and business and it protests old-fashioned Christian separationism and enclave Christian circles. The walls between Church and World, so it is suggesting, need to be impermeable and not permeable, they need to be knocked down so the passage from one to the other is an imperceptible as the passing of Jesus from one person to another.
Tomorrow: I will post on postmodernity and the emerging movement.



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cindy bryan

posted November 1, 2005 at 10:02 am


Thank you for this comprehensive list. I’m going to link to it.



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BJBergfalk

posted November 1, 2005 at 10:10 am


You have addressed a number of the issues that seperate the “emergent” folks from the rest of us aging baby-boomers. When a movement finds it’s impetus in protest there is always a backlash from the dominent institution. Critique of a new movement is often based on misunderstanding. And the ultimate success of the new movement is predicated on the maturity of the leadership to help the fledgeling movement to stay the course.



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Kerry Doyal

posted November 1, 2005 at 10:14 am


Great list. Helpful. Good stuff, Scot. Thanks.
This is probably where so many get scared: “Third, it sees cock-sure certainty as a cancer.”
Ah, that delicate balance of affirming (such as the Apostle’s Creed), yet discussing, conversing, re-examining. It has been good to see in previous day’s blogs / posts the admission by many that “Emergers” ;-) have seemed at times afraid to admit certainty about anything. Though they are, and unashamedly so.
This realm – # 3 – needs – ironicly – more clarity and precise expression throughout Emergopolis. And with it the allowing for the freedom to confess a certainty, though held incompletely and with even admitted or possible inconsistencies (seen & unseen). If that is not clear, it may prove my point ;-) – (Talk about covering your rump.)



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Roseanne

posted November 1, 2005 at 10:28 am


It seems to me that, in fact, there is nothing “new” or “emerging” about the emerging movement or the emergent conversation. Rather, this is one aspect of the latest round in the ever-recurrent renewal of the church, corporately and individually. It is the essence of the 1st century era when God sent his son into the social and intellectual environment of Palestine (note John the Baptist and the Qumran community). It is seen in the early church – Clement of Alexandria and his “True Gnostic” (not to be confused with the Gnostic heresy), and in Augustine. It is evident in the monastic movements and was the essence of the reformation with Luther and others. Most of the protests of the emergent movement as outlined here were of prime importance in all major revivals. I see the impact of real renewal and commitment in the life stories of my grandparents in the early 1900′s. From my own experience these issues were being raised in the 70′s and 80′s (note the “Gospel Blimp” and the late 70′s phenomenon of Communion at the drop of a hat, and questioning the need for seminary education, and realizing the importance of social action, – at least at the Christian college I attended). This is an important, healthy conversation, but becomes dangerous when (1) the history is not appreciated and (2) personalities become important and people become defensive, arrogant, or aggressive.



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Brian Wallace

posted November 1, 2005 at 11:19 am


Hi Scot,
I wonder about #8. As someone currently in the PCUSA I understand well what Emerging is reacting against and understand (to an extent) the work of Focault and how he has shaped this line of thinking.
However, how does this relate to the community role in discernment? You write “The very notion that one needs pastoral approval for one’s calling or one’s promptings or what one is permitted to do many find unconscionably usurping of God’s authority.” Does Calvin’s mantra, “God calls, but the church also must call” no longer apply? It seems to be that this might be seen as contradicting the concept of the community.
Thanks for your work,
Brian



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eric

posted November 1, 2005 at 11:35 am


Hi Scott,
In addition to Brian’s comment on # 8 I was wondering if the emerging movement can reject hierarchy in leadership and still affirm the manisfest diversity of chruch traditions. You once commented in a post quite some time ago that you cant just use different parts of other traditions without also at least appreciating the larger reasons that these traditions exist (you used the example of the use of icons with out understanding the underlying Orothodox theology of creation). Can we only appropriate aspects of other traditions without asseting the validity of the whole tradition? I think that we can but it is a point of tension within the emerging movement as to by what criteria do we accept and reject aspects of traditions? Are the criterion based on Scripture, culture, other traditions?



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Wolf N Paul

posted November 1, 2005 at 12:12 pm


I would also like to comment on #3 and #8, and it ties in with my comment on yesterday’s post.
If I can assert my calling without any validation of it by the church (#8), I am actually displaying a cock-sureness which I feel uneasy with when it applies to doctrines.
Is there not a certain contradiction here?
When the church, starting in the first few centuries, met in council and defined a doctrinal boundary, generally the whole church was represented and affirmed that it was led by the Holy Spirit to spell out these things.
Most of the excessive definitions in Scholasticism and recent protestant fundamentalism were cock-sure assertions by a small part of the church; and someone asserting “God wants me to do this” without submitting this claim to the judgement of the larger church might be representing the same sort of problem.



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Maria

posted November 1, 2005 at 12:33 pm


Scot,
As I read your #8, I don’t see it rejecting the idea of “the church also calls.” You’re just not defining church = pastor or church authority = pastor’s authority.



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Dan'l

posted November 1, 2005 at 12:38 pm


I’m probably hyper-sensitive but “protest” evokes in me an image of a willfull, premeditated response, the carrying out of an agenda against an agenda, so to speak. Being one that has experienced most of your points above and coming across many, many others of the same ilk, I have yet to encounter someone that defines their actions/decisions as a “protest”. We “object” and “vote with our feet” and form new groups with those of like minds and hearts, but “protesting” was the action we took as part of the process leading up to our final decision to leave. Having moved on it’s no longer a protest but finding a freedom to move on in and with ministry. Just my two pennies’ worth…



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ted gossard

posted November 1, 2005 at 1:11 pm


“Third, it sees cock-sure certainty as a cancer. I will touch on this origins for this tomorrow in my post on postmodernity, but the emerging generation does not find certaintist expressions as amenable as less certaintist expressions — even when the same thing can be said in different ways. Certainty denies the frailty of humans, the limitations of our own minds, the need for conversation and relationship and communal growth, and it sets itself up for collapse the minute a more complete grasp of knowledge is found.”
I look forward to trying to better understand this, though I think I have some understanding on it, and I’m guessing that I resonate more with this thought than I realize.
Could it be akin to the faith proclamation we make with reference to truth found in Scripture, with the realization that we really don’t “get it” certainly in the sense that God does? -that also we need each other and we ever need to hold to our understandings with deep humility.
Scripture does talk about knowing- relationally and even with reference to teachings. Though that does not forego realizing our frailty, dependency and interdependency- always- in whatever that knowing entails.



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brad

posted November 1, 2005 at 1:37 pm


I think that it is exactly this “protest” element that upsets pastors like myself. As the “movement” grows lets hope it matures into a new and truly eccumenical.



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joe

posted November 1, 2005 at 2:02 pm


Scott:
In regards to #8 – I agree with your point, but I think some of the commenting on it may be missing it. I don’t think that the rejection of a central authority is about protest or an independent streak. Instead, I think there is a belief that everyone should get a chance to participate in ministry (everyone gets to play). In my personal experience, I do not see people splintering off the local church to start their own (in protest), but instead, I see people getting fed up that something is not being done by the local church and starting it. For example, our church is located in a college town. We had a group of people who were frustrated that we were not doing enough to minister to some of the college kids. Instead of demanding that the “clergy” do something, they got together, bought some pizzas, and hit the college bars in town. They give away pizza to the kids and get a chance to minister to them. None of the people who are doing this are ordained or have been through any special bible training, none of the pizzas are bought by the church. They just saw a need and did it. I think that is what you’re talking about, just an opportunity for regular people to be the church without the church getting in the way.



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Mike Bishop

posted November 1, 2005 at 2:07 pm


Can you explain what you mean by ecumenical? It could mean that the emerging conversation should involve more of the church. Yes, Scot is correct, much of the protest is aimed at evangelicalism, but the conversation (or movement) stretches far outside of those boundaries.
However, you could mean “ecumenical” in the sense that the emerging conversation should be promoting unity instead of protesting and creating division. I’ve heard this argument many times before and I remain unconvinced that protest and unity are mutually exclusive in the context of Christian community. I regularly “protest” things my wife asks me to do, however, I would not consider our relationship to be one of disunity.
I believe there is opportunity within the church to have healthy disagreement and conflict – if love is present. Love is the key. I love the church, but I also care about her health so I don’t hesitate to point out areas where she may be sick. You might disagree on what those areas are or if they really constitute a sickness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love each other. In case you’re wondering, I have personal experience with this within my own denomination…and it actually works.



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Mike Bishop

posted November 1, 2005 at 2:10 pm


My last comment was mostly directed at Brad, but anyone is welcome to add their thoughts.



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Steve

posted November 1, 2005 at 4:17 pm


Protest is a good word, certainly I’ve known my fair share of protest.
Don’t ideas and movemetns normally develop in the thesis, antithesis model? That as part of distinquishing who we are, we often tend to need to start with what we are dissatisfied with, and deconstruct. I think brad is right, that it’s the mark of an movement (for lack of a better word) which has matured that it feels more able to define itself in the positive.
I love the post, and find myself very readily identifying with it, and movement towards these types of resolutions.
Steve



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Ron Fay

posted November 1, 2005 at 4:20 pm


What I find interesting is that much of my own study and teaching has pushed me down many of these same paths, though I would not consider myself emergent (the postmodern part gets me every time for, as someone trained in science, postmodernism is anathema to my neural net). For example, when teaching on the theology of Luke, I could not help but see the divorce between social and vocal gospel that Evangelicals make which runs completely counter to the flow of Luke-Acts. I made sure that I pounded that message home, that the gospel is salvation for the person, the soul and the body.
The only one I have true qualms about is #8, though I think you have stated it in a very gentle fashion such that it seemingly criese out against the abuse of authority rather than the proper use of it. After all, I doubt the movement is calling for no authoritarian structure, for that would tend toward chaos and away from the Scriptural model.



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len

posted November 1, 2005 at 8:11 pm


Brian
“The very notion that one needs pastoral approval for one’s calling ..or what one is permitted to do many find usurping of God’s authority.” Brian, you comment that “It seems to be that this might be seen as contradicting the concept of the community.”
I don’t see why? I don’t reject the concept of leadership, and I don’t reject the gifts of word and leadership.. what I reject is the rigid connection to authority. Instead, that authority is located in the Spirit indwelt Body of Christ. True, it may manifest more often in certain people who have been walking the road longer.. and for this we need discernment. But ultimately, Jesus authority is located in the body and not at a theoretical pinnacle nor is it limited to priests.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 1, 2005 at 10:02 pm


I see no reason to comment here tonight: the conversation is kept by you bloggers and I’m enjoying the conversation.



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tatiana

posted November 2, 2005 at 1:55 am


Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of what Emergent is seeking… has actually already been happening for centuries? I’m sure you know what I am referring to… oh yes, the Anabaptists. Community, counter-culture, social gospel, etc. Though I’m not sure all the “emergers” could handle something so radical. I feel like most of us are still holding to tightly to our security to claim pacifism.



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Naba

posted November 2, 2005 at 3:53 am


Scot,
I really, really appreciate the clear articulation of your perspective on who and what we are (since I’m emerging). I resonate deeply with your description by knodding at my computer.
Protest 9 caught my attention. I am currently reading John Stott’s “Christian Mission in the Modern World.” I found his thoughts in this book extremely pertinent to the emerging conversation because it is a book of missiology (which EM seems to be at the core). He compares three views of the interaction of social action and evangelism:
1. Social action is a means to evangelism
2. Social action is a manifestation of evangelism
3. Social action is a partner of evangelism
He goes on to present number 3 as the “truly Christian” option over and above the others He later roots this in the Jesus Creed. His definition of mission is so similar with the conviction of the EM and your own purple approach. I found it ironic and interesting since Stott was writing this in the early 70′s. I’m sure we can find similar threads undulating throughout history. But I just loved experiencing the resonance of convictions I have as an emerging person with something and someone older and bigger than the EM. It gives me confidence that we are fumbling in the right direction.
Two more gifts arrived in the mail today. I was pleasantly surprised! Thank you and thank you again. I hope we can meet in person one day.
Thanks again for your even handed communication and teaching.



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kristine

posted November 2, 2005 at 4:52 am


Great overview of the Emerging church.
This set of ideas resonates so much in my perspective of Christianity. I have been following blogs like yours simply to gain more knowledge about the emerging church and I always find something thought provoking in your writing.



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted November 2, 2005 at 9:39 am


Scot et. all,
Great quote from Stott by Naba. If forced to choose, I can see how #3 would be chosen. My question is this: Why can it be all three? Wouldn’t that be a richer option?
As for Tatiana’s claim that emergent is largely Anabaptist, I would have to take issue with this. Having spent most of my life in school, church, ministry and life with Anabaptists of all stripes, I can see a great deal of how their influence has helped contribute to my more emerging faith. However, there are many aspects of the emerging movement that are very different (even contrary, in some respects) to Anabaptist theology. I believe you have addressed this, Scot, in previous posts & comments.
(Also, as to the comment about security undermining a commitment to pacifism, I think the issue is far more complex than that. See Walter Brueggeman on God & violence as one example)
Peace,
Jamie



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Scot McKnight

posted November 2, 2005 at 9:50 am


Rob (Naba):
The distinction between social action and evangelism is predicated on a narrow view of the gospel: I think we need to expand our understanding of the gospel so that it involves social justice.
I can also say that John Stott has been a huge influence for me, and that book was one of my favorites of his. Some of it has been captured in the Contemporary Christian. It was shortly after reading that book, Rob, that I came into contact with Ronald Sider and then the Anabaptist “penny dropped” for me.



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted November 2, 2005 at 10:55 am


Scot,
I am not sure how the whole trackback thing works, but I posted a response/affirmation to this post on my site, as it would have been one LONG comment. Thanks for this!
Peace,
Jamie



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Brian Wallace

posted November 2, 2005 at 1:01 pm


Len,
You wrote:
I don’t see why? I don’t reject the concept of leadership, and I don’t reject the gifts of word and leadership.. what I reject is the rigid connection to authority. Instead, that authority is located in the Spirit indwelt Body of Christ. True, it may manifest more often in certain people who have been walking the road longer.. and for this we need discernment. But ultimately, Jesus authority is located in the body and not at a theoretical pinnacle nor is it limited to priests.
I agree with everything you said – but what does it look like in practice. For example, I have a classmate who feels that she is called to ministry. However, everyone around her, friends, classmates, and judicatories, all believe that she would be incredibly detrimental to any church and basically, she is unfit for ministry. Now what happens?
The church has historically had an important role in discernment, especially when it comes to leaders. This includes those previously chosen to be, within my tradition, elders and ministers. So what exactly is the relationship between community and authority?
- Brian



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Chad

posted November 2, 2005 at 3:03 pm


Hey Scot,
Really appreciate your thoughtful words. I just had one thing to add… I actually find the idea that the Emerging Movement is simply an extension or continuation of protest or reformation movements from years gone by somewhat comforting. It makes me feel like we’re joining a long, rich history of saints who have stood against the tide and tried to find a better way to reflect Jesus in their respective days and times.
It’s also somewhat comforting to accept the idea that our children’s children’s children will have to continue to refine and improve on the work that we (well… Scot) are (is) doing. I, for one, don’t discount any history as I consider this thing called emergent. If anything, history must be fully explored and grasped to even have a chance at discovering something new and wonderful about our collective life as a Body.
My $.02. That and $3.43 will get you a medium latte.



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len

posted November 2, 2005 at 3:22 pm


CHad, great observation. We need to recognize the ways in which we are connected to a long line of witnesses. Brian, you are right.. the community has a voice and a role. We are so far along on the road of individualism and rationalism (they are part of the same root) that it is difficult to talk about covenant anymore. But we need to find a way..



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Scot McKnight

posted November 2, 2005 at 3:27 pm


Chad and Len,
I’m in agreement that any “protest” today is really part of the Church that sees itself as in constant need of reformation (semper reformanda), but that some see this as the Next Reformation over-states things — of course, when Luther did what he did and Calvin what he did and Zwingli what he did, no one knew it would spin out of control.



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Chad

posted November 2, 2005 at 5:12 pm


Scot,
I definitely agree that the last thing we need is another reformation that simply crackes into another splinter of the church.



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Chad

posted November 2, 2005 at 5:12 pm


Oye vey, how I despise my spelling errors. Cracks. Cracks is what I meant to type.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 2, 2005 at 5:28 pm


Chad,
While the Emerging phenomenon is not an ecumenical movement strictly speaking, it has within great ecumenical impulses.



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ron

posted November 2, 2005 at 7:08 pm


Scot I’m struggling with ” protest “, I find the word to reactionary, maybe creating an atomsphere that is not conducive to conversation and dialogue with in the ” bigger ” church. I think there is some reality and awareness within the church, that it is locked into a mindset or paradigm…knowing it needs help. And I agree with all ten points you,ve brought up…but maybe a movent of liberation, rather than protest might create an Atmosophere where we can work this thing out together. Huge task…I know, a crazy thought.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 2, 2005 at 7:26 pm


Ron,
I find the hesitations over the word “protest” interesting, for while I resonate with the desire to be affirming of other Christians, I do sense in the Emerging movement a protest about specific conditions.
Maybe liberation is a good word, too, but it too evokes that one is in some kind of shackles out of which one is being liberated.
Jamie Arpin-Ricci had similar comments.



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Darryl

posted November 3, 2005 at 9:16 pm


ra ra eight. So Punk Rock. (flipping the bird to authority) ok sarcasm aside. Everyone hates overseers who like to be on top but you can’t read the bible and not acknowledge that there were God ordained authority structures in place in the Church. Besides, the pope has a really nice hat.



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herobill

posted November 6, 2005 at 5:46 pm


I’m gonna be honest. You totally lost me on that 10th point. While I agree that “old-fashioned, seperationism, and enclave” are certainly very negative words, I don’t see how you think the “passage from the Church to the World” can ever be imperceptible. Did you mean what I think that means, or did I misunderstand? Does that mean one day we won’t be able to tell the difference between the church and the world around it?
I’m pretty sure the world will keep pursuing unity along lines that ignore Christ, and I’m pretty sure that – whatever else christians choose to do – the Church of Jesus Christ is a group of people that honor, exalt and call on his name above all else (no matter how involved they may or may not be with their unsaved neighbors).
How can you say the passing between those two should become imperceptible? Are we going to acknowledge Christ less, or will the world acknowledge him more?
What I truly fear, is that the ‘emergent’ vision might be saying, “we’ll just love them, and that will be Christ without needing to say so”… which may be a beautiful idea… but it’s not the church, so my question remains.
do you think you overstaed point ten a bit? or does this reveal more about ‘emergent’ than I wanted to believe?
humbly awaiting your reply.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 6, 2005 at 11:30 pm


Hero Bill,
I’m all for nervousness about “wordliness” and I don’t think my term here is Bonhoeffer so much as it is a trend I am seeing in the Emerging conversation. That is, they are concerned about a life that “redeems the world” and lives “for now” and sees systemic injustice worth undoing — that sort of thing.
On the imperceptibility … I recommend you find my blogs on impermeable walls. The idea is important. There is a radical difference between World and Church, but the boundaries, it is being suggested, should be much less noticeable. Let me offer Willow Creek as an instance: Weekend services are for everyone — and the wall between the Church and anyone who wants to be there and participate is unnoticeable. John Burke’s book, No Perfect People Allowed, is another.



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Shawn

posted November 7, 2005 at 9:44 am


Hello all.
I want to preface my comment with a disclaimer, which is that I not trying to pick a political argument, but trying to work through a few issues and questions that I have.
I agree with almost all of the points made by Scot with one exception, number nine. This is the one part of emergent I have problems with.
First, just so people know where I’m coming from a few words about my own politics.
While I dont cleanly fit into either the Right or Left I am on the Right in my own way.
I’m a firm believer that as a church we should help and serve the poor, I just do not believe that liberalism/socialism is the answer to poverty. There are a number of reasons why I believe that (the failure of liberal programs in the US, 10-12% unemployment rates in France) and there is not space to go into them, but I just dont believe that state socialism helps the poor.
So I dont support the Social Gospel, at least in the way it has usually been defined, especially in the mainline churches.
At the same time I dont believe in the prosperity Gospel or libertarian style untrammeled capitalism either. I guess you could call me a centrist on economic issues.
I do believe is that private property rights, the rule of law, and a generally open economy are the best way to ensure a wealthy society and, it seems to me at least, that such societies have been far better are reducing poverty that strictly socialist ones.
Second, I’m not a pacifist. I accept the Just War tradition as a moral, biblical and commonsense approach to the issue of how the state should respond to foriegn agression, tyrants and terrorists.
Now I dont want to get into a debate about those views themselves. I have come to them over many years of thought, research, reading and experience, so Im not going to be changing my mind any time soon.
My question is, is there a place within emergent for those of us who, while supporting most of the points Scot has made, are not prepared to sign up to socialism/liberalism or pacifism?
This is an important question for me, and I suspect some others as well. Its important because I want to support emergent and see this conversation blossom, and I’m certainly not saying that emergent as a whole should sign up to my views either. But if its only going to be an exclusive club for those on the political left then what space will there be for those of us who dont sign up to that part?
Thats my question/concern essentially.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 7, 2005 at 10:21 am


Shawn,
I cannot speak for the entire emerging movement, but I would say this in response: I’m glad you’ve asked this question.
Emerging folk have had some harsh words for the “Redness” of the Church and have, far too often, failed to speak prophetically about the “Blueness” of other Christians. In other words, there is an unfair tipping here.
What is promising is that I think many of the leaders genuinely want a “Purpleness” — and that means it will be both appreciative of and critical of both Red and Blue as it attempts to forge yet another path through the thicket called Western capitalism and colonialism and everything else. Which means also, I want to emphasize, that they want to appreciate the good in each, including the Red States.
So, my contention, Shawn, is that you are needed — very much so. Why? Because we need alternative voices who think clearly and can reason with evidence about the issues that concern many of us.



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Shawn

posted November 7, 2005 at 10:39 am


Thanyou for that answer. It might seem silly but it really takes a load off my mind. I have tried to discuss this on other emergent blogs/forums and for some reason I was getting very negative responses. Perhaps I was unclear in how I expressed myself, but people seemed to think I was advocating my political views, when I was simply trying to find out how inclusive emergent is now and will be in the future towards those of us who are on the conservative-right of the political spectrum.
I like the idea or “purpleness”. There is much about the secular right that I dislike and disagree with as much as the left.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 7, 2005 at 10:55 am


Shawn,
The liberal experiment has not worked as it has been promised and that is why, so I think, so many are now Red who were once Blue — and we need to find a better way for I don’t think the Red side thinks centrally enough about these things. But, that is for others to blog about.



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Shawn

posted November 7, 2005 at 11:26 am


I think Red gets a few things right on economics, such as limited government, propert rights and so forth, but also gets a lot wrong, such as ignoring the gap between rich and poor and the problem of excessive corporate power. Plus theres the fact that modern neo-liberal capitalism is in many ways profoundly anti-conservative and disruptive of those things conservatives are supposed to value, such as stability, family, kinship and tradition.
Understanding this has led me recently to start exploring Chestertonian Distributism and agrarianism.
By the way, while I understand it in the US context, where I live, in New Zealand, the colours are opposite. Here Red very much means Left. Its funny talking about it in this way.
I need to sleep now as its very late here, morning in fact! I really like your blog and its encouraged me to buy the JC book this week.
Pax.



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Paul Johnston

posted November 13, 2005 at 12:06 pm


1. ” This generation of Christians is not CAPABLE!! (emphasis mine) or interested in putting up fronts when it comes to “church” and when it gathers”…
Hmm, don’t sell yourself short, your capable.
Misrepresenting or at least not giving equal voice to the mainstream/traditional worship structures that you criticize may not be “tom fakery” but it smacks of “tom foolery”. Traditionalists are probably doing somethings right, somethings that ought to be complimented, given thanks for, emulated and retained. If you are going to wholly define others on your own terms, without their dialogue, intended mostly to dismiss their contributions/ lifetime of worship as wrong, don’t be surprised or “cry foul” when they do it to you.
We shall see how “capable” you were of compromising behavior, as seen through the eyes of your own children, generations from now. If they openly challenge, criticize and ridicule much of what you stood for, what will your feelings be then I wonder.
As for traditionalists today, I greatly appreciate there reverence towards space. In my church, the RC, church is first the sacred residing place of the tabernacle, it is the “holiest of holy” places. It is God’s house, before it is my place of worship. I appreciate a perspective that honours and reveres the dwelling place of the incarnate Spirit of God.
While we can meet anywhere, virtually or otherwise, including pubs, and further discuss our faith commitments, giving to God of our material wealth a dwelling worthy of His Being is to me, a tangeable expression of humility and holiness.
As for the time we go, let us not restrict ourselves to sunday but nor should we dismiss it as unimportant either. Setting aside, as part of our faith relationships, a constant, like Sunday Mass, reflects a connection to the very roots of our tradition and as well tangibly speaks to God that we have and always will set aside this time, to give thanks praise and worship to His Being. It is not meant as the beginning and the end of our relationship with Him, rather it should be seen as a solid foundation, the “bedrock” so to speak.
Pardon my insoucience Scott but the most honest “vibe” I get from the EC regarding the dismissal of Sunday morning worship is that it falls to soon after Saturday night partying. People are increasingly becoming selfish with regards to Sunday and see it as their day, not the Lords. Let’s squeeze Jesus into the rest of the busy work week and keep sunday for ourselves.
And let’s not get me started on the subject of tithing, think what you want of us but when it comes time to putting our money where our mouths are, we geezers pony up! We spend on our churches, we spend in our communities, we spend to alleviate human suffering around the world.
Post modern capitalism and it’s politics are far more responsible for the degree to which todays dispossessed people suffer. However imperfectly, traditionalist have a long and proud history of at least trying to make a difference. Let us stop with the “friendly fire”, as a true Body of Christ, let us work together, not apart.
“Protest” didn’t work the first time round, it isn’t gonna work this time either.



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kerri

posted November 18, 2005 at 3:37 am


Oh, we must remember that the Church is the body of Christ. We can’t point to it and say “here it is”. Amoung the groups of believers that gather together you will find some who belong to the church, and some who do not. The things that you list here many oppose and have throughout the ages, beginning with PAUL. It took what….a few months before problems came up in the Church! I find that the EC writings lack a depth of understanding which leads to drawing false conclusions about anyone who doesn’t converse, worship, or think like yourselves. This is my perspective, help me understand where I may be wrong.



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make money on the Internet

posted January 27, 2006 at 3:35 am


Hi! What a great blog! Great job! thanks again for the info! I’ll be back again to visit and read some more in a few days! :-)



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profit

posted January 27, 2006 at 4:59 am


Hi! What a great blog! Great job! thanks again for the info! I’ll be back again to visit and read some more in a few days! :-)



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Ben

posted January 30, 2006 at 3:51 pm


I find myself parroting much what Shawn has said earlier. I too am a “Red Stater” and often find myself at odds with those who claim themselves to be “inclusive”. I also agree with those who say that a Sunday Morning worship service is essential to ones spiritual health.



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skiing

posted April 26, 2006 at 12:33 pm


Awesome! Your blog ROCKS! Man… If I was you I would be proud, so you should! Laterz dude….



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