Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Emergent Theology

posted by xscot mcknight

This is the second in a week-long series of observations about the Emergent event at the National Pastor’s Convention. I wish I could talk about the rest of the sessions, but other than speaking in my own sessions and participating in the Emergent event, all I was able to do was meet with people and publishers. Today’s post is about theology and is serious; not all of them will be serious (like yesterday’s).
As some of you know, my opportunity to participate in an emerging event at the National Pastor’s Convention permitted me to meet Tony Jones, spend time with Doug and Shelly Pagitt, chat with LeRon Shults, chat with Dan Kimball, and to spend time with John Burke. I have heard time and again that Emergent is not theological and is not biblical. The big complaint is that Emergent has “no theology.” I think that is true, for now. I see something going on that is energizing.
I sat at lunches, dinners, causal chats, and sessions with these folks. And I sat up late at night in a suite with a variety of pastors, etc.. But this is what I will say:
All this group of folks care about is theology. Not one of these leaders mentioned golf (which I did) or basketball or the Olympics. And when the TV was on in the restaurant and scores were flashing on the screen I think I was the only one who cared. The topic at each juncture and between junctures and in passing was theology, Bible, and praxis. That’s it. Rather monolithic.
I will say this: they are not stuck in the traditional theological ruts so many are stuck in. They’re not going to ask questions about the rapture or about the TNIV vs. the ESV and the like. They’re really into the intersection of theology, culture, and praxis — and it was stimulating to be part of. There is talk of postmodernity, and there is nervousness about foundationalism, and there is clearly new questions and therefore new answers. But, it is clearly a theology in development.
Now, let’s be fair here: No one knows were some of this will end up; I’m not saying any of these folks has got it all right; nor am I saying they are true-blue evangelicals; what I am saying is that my one week with these folks encouraged me deeply on the level of theological discourse being carried among these leaders of Emergent as they carry the torch of this movement.
I’m happy to offer my biblical perspective to the conversation, and you know what? I think they like having my voice at the table. And about all I’ve got is biblical theology to offer. That can’t be bad.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(39)
post a comment
dan mcgowan

posted February 27, 2006 at 8:28 am


I think what I find somewhat insightful is the constant use of words like “them” or “these folks” when referring to those in the Emergant movement… sort of the same way we refer to “those” in the Charismatic or Pentecostal church…
The point here – we are ALL in the SAME church – the Body of Christ. It gets a little tiring to read books, articles, blog posts, etc. that constantly segregate us all into “groups” – when the reality is we are ONE body…
No wonder we continue to have “wars and rumors of wars” and division – in our churches.



report abuse
 

Sivin

posted February 27, 2006 at 9:57 am


sounds good Scot, and I appreciate your input … I’m a little busy lately. Hope to catch up with a number of your excellent series :-)



report abuse
 

Mike Lamson

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:00 am


Scot,
Your voice is needed, and being in the stream of this movement, I have been listening. Your thoughts have been very helpful, and I think you nailed it on the head with your experience. I sense the same with those I talk with as well.
Some get frustrated because it seems Emergent just does a lot of talking. They want to see some action. I think the two go hand-in-hand. Part of wrestling with theology is what we do in practice, so I think some of trying out things in context of new theological perspectives and seeing beautiful things. That is what gives me hope.
Again, I am listening, and I appreciate your insights into the conversation.



report abuse
 

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:01 am


Scot,
This is very promising to hear. I have deeply appreciated your voice in the conversation and am very glad you will continue to add it.
Peace,
Jamie
P.S. to Dan M.- I think you are overstating the issue. Yes, we are one Body, but we are diverse. That is why language allows us to differentiate to clarity. Perhaps you are looking to hard.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:03 am


Dan,
Fair criticism — I wrote this post one time with “we” all through it, and then thought that was presumptuous of me. I’m a newcomer to the group, and didn’t sense it was my place to speak for Emergent.
Once we objectify Emergent/emerging, which is clearly necessary at times (we objectify, after all, all groups), we are forced to use “they” language. I have no intent of objectifying in the sense of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emergent, in fact, is working against that very strain of evangelicalism.
Dan, we are One Body — and would that it would show more.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:04 am


I wrote my Comment back to Dan before Mike’s and Jamie’s showed on my screen. The page was down a few minutes for me this morning.



report abuse
 

DanD

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:12 am


Scot,
Can you bring me up to speed on foundationalism?
I have found my emergent exposure so breath-giving in much of my understanding, especially of epistimological issues, but I am unfamiliar with this term.
thanks



report abuse
 

rick

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:13 am


Scott,
I am not sure what these guys are offering to the “Church” on a greater scale. I think they may be good for some kids who were raised going to church in high school gyms and are burnt out on Hawaiian shirts, goatees, and pop psychology, but on a greater scale I am not sure what they have contributed to theology.
I know that they discovered NT Wright and Walter Brueggaman– and that is wonderful, but these guys have been around forever in mainline theology.
This is a “conversation” that has been taking placing in the church for decades; it’s just that some evangelcals are just now joining in on the conversation.
I see very little “conversation” from minority voices– like African Americans or the feminist perspective. (Yes, I know how white dudes roll their eyes when confronted with this reality) This seems mainly like an evangelical group who is “high” on the next best thing.
I attended the Emergent Conference two years ago in SD and was deeply saddened by what I saw. There really is no leadership from a theological perspective in my opinion.
Many of this kids are loooking for a sacramental view of faith but do not have the language to express it. It seems they are seeking a deeper mystical experience but are unable to articulate their need. Leadership keeps reguritating 20th century mainline theology or a baptist discovered candles and The Book of Common Prayer.
I believe the kids deserve more than they are getting. I like what Brian McLaren is attemting but there has to be more than Brian and his core buds. I minister to burnt out evangelicals every day… if the emerging church wants to truly emerge it needs to move beyond the security of it evangelical roots and allow itself to be challenged beyond what it can control theologically and this means sitting at the table and becoming a minority as a start.
I think it would serve the “conversation” well if those who want to lead the “conversation” included others who did dress alike.
This really isn’t intended to be critical, it is my observation based on my experience.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:26 am


Rick,
I hate to do this, but I think you are just griping. So, let me direct with your comments.
The first paragraph is simplistic.
The second is wrong: Tom Wright is not mainline. He’s an evangelical moderate. Mainliners might like some of his stuff, but you need to be aware, perhaps, that mainline academics see him as a conservative.
It is not a conversation that has been taking place in the church for decades; show me some postmodernist theology in a truly reflective sense that is decades old.
You are right about minority voices, but there is more here than you are suggesting; lots have said this.
The conference in SD that year is outside what I know. The “sacramental” comment is simplistic. More than that, to be sure.
The paragraph on McLaren surprises: if you like McLaren, then you have to admit he is providing some theological leadership. And if there is one thing that is clear is that plenty in emerging/emergent are more than willing to move beyond the security of evangelicalism.
May I suggest you look at my article, in the Sidebar, at Studies I have online (“Emerging Church”).



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:49 am


DanD,
Look at one of the following:
Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism
Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine



report abuse
 

Van S

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:10 pm


Every week I hear someone reducing the emerging church to “grumpy younger evangelicals who are simply shifting into mainline liberalism.” As someone who has been critical (from within) of the emerging church, I can understand the frustration with the seeming fruitlessness, the overemphasis on talking, the lack of diversity, etc. But things take time. SO much has happened in the last 10 years. There is a very real shift happening, and we need to avoid the trap of superfiical analysis or comparison.



report abuse
 

rick

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:57 pm


Scott,
You are right: NT Wright is considered a conservative in mainline theology and yes, he’s an evangelical.
I think Brian has been a great voice for the evangelical church. I wasn’t critizing Brian.
No I was just griping, although that has been a very lousy excuse usded against many voices who have not been included in this conversation.
Maybe decades is an overstatement: Whitehead, Barth, David Griffin, Marc Taylor… how ’bout hans kung? I know he is Roman Catholic… Howard Thurman, a dead black dude?
Any how, didn’t mean to get your khakis knotted-up. I was simply sharing my opinion based on my experience.
I think the emerging church is a good thing for evangelicals… and for Zondervan.
Thanks.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted February 27, 2006 at 2:53 pm


emerging mosaic » how long emergent? soon and very soon

[...] Now I hear it again from the emergent conversation. Scott McKnight has an interesting post about conversations he is having with emergent leaders types (all white and male with the exception of a spouse) at the National Pastors Conference. He reports from his conversation that they are serious about theology and the intersection of [...]



report abuse
 

dan mcgowan

posted February 27, 2006 at 5:58 pm


Hi group – a great discussion… you know, I get it – the whole thing of possibly taking words like “us” and “them” too far… on the other hand – so much of the Christian culture is filled with division that I am, admittedly, a bit sensitive to it… we have OUR denominations, and OUR WAY of worshiping the Lord (which is usually the RIGHT way), and we have OUR doctrine and OUR beliefs, etc. Bottom line – there is only ONE system we should be following, right? The one Jesus taught and modeled… anything other than that is probably “the wrong one.”
I guess I’m fine with the ONE division of those who truly follow Christ and those who truly shun Him. And, of course, in a perfect world – there would BE no division cuz we’d ALL finally come to the light, right?
Just thinking out loud – too noisy?



report abuse
 

Jpb

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:53 pm


DanM, would you equate the idea of “differences” in the Body with “division”? I’m not implying that you think that any difference means division, but I am wondering if we really need to see differences in the Body from a negative perspective. What do you think? Maybe I’m missing you.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted February 27, 2006 at 7:59 pm


SmartChristian.com » Blog Archive »

[...] [...]



report abuse
 

Carla Mayer

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:45 pm


I had the pleasure of attending NPC and I agree with your perspective on emergent as a theology in formation. (After your blog on emergent dress code, I should put you at ease by pointing out that I was the freak in a SUIT at the Critical Concerns Course..)
If NPC was a fair representation, it appears that the theology is being shaped primarily by men. Are you aware of women who are participating in the shaping of the theology?
On a related issue, you made an excellent point at the conference about different cultures, classes and genders having to define “sin”. I may get you in trouble by attempting to quote you, but I believe you said that if white men define sin as power, than the powerless will never be able to attain power without being labeled sinners.
As a woman who has worked/volunteered in several different Christian organizations…wow…that nails it. Women want to contribute at a leadership level, but they are not invited and they can’t offer their service without the fear of being labeled “ambitious” (which is code for something much less flattering, I’m sure.) It’s helpful to have a double-bind like that named and exposed for what it is.
At any rate, thank you for your contribution at NPC!



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:52 pm


Carla,
Thanks for this post — carefully crafted and clearly to a good point. Thanks also for the kind comment about what I said about the social shaping of sin.
I don’t want to bow out of this by saying “I didn’t decide whom to invite.” I don’t think I’m sensitive to these issues as much as I might be, and I think there will be improvement in these matters.
I, for one, have heard this concern on this blog enough that I’ll do what I can when I’m invited to such venues to see if we can get broader representation.
I was at an event last Fall and it was in fact more representative.



report abuse
 

Duane Young

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:52 pm


I notice that Sarah Sumner was at the NPC. I assume she addressed gender issues and matters. Scot, was she at TEDS when you were? Did you cross paths with her at the conference? Have you followed her career and writings? Strikes me as an up and comer. I really appreciated her first book (maybe only one out yet–another one coming soon). It was very sensitively and thoughtfully written.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted February 28, 2006 at 1:31 am


Subversive Influence » Blog Archive » 2006: The year that is emerging… less word, more work.

[...] Still, there’s some weariness afoot with the whole emerging conversation. Jordon Cooper expressed some similar sentiment today as well. Scot McKnight, in while reviewing the National Pastors Convention discusses how the emerging conversation is very concerned about theology right now, and little else. He casts this in a positive light, referring to how an emerging theology is beginning to, well, emerge. Unfortunately, some of those who have been in the conversation are starting to grow weary with the talk. [...]



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted February 28, 2006 at 3:08 am


A Different Perspective » The Proprietary Church

[...] Reading comments to Scot McKnight’s post on “Emergent Theology” I was struck by something… the debate had gone into that all too familiar “us vs. them” language thing. Anyone who reads Scot’s blog with any regularity knows he isn’t being divisive when he speaks of Emergents as “them,” so I don’t even want to address that issue. What got me thinking were the practical divisions we actually have in churches. [...]



report abuse
 

Karen

posted February 28, 2006 at 3:58 pm


What struck me about your observations was the comment that there’s a desire to know how theology relates to culture, among people who don’t partake of it. Isn’t that like similar to being an aneroxic food critic? How can you build relationships with people when your only conversations center around things that interest you and not them?



report abuse
 

Ted Gossard,

posted February 28, 2006 at 5:56 pm


“They’re really into the intersection of theology, culture, and praxis”
This is refreshing. Everything is really beside the point, in a way, or at least only supportive of or incidental to this.
I hope many such communities of faith come. And may we all be one with them towards this.



report abuse
 

Carla Mayer

posted March 1, 2006 at 10:10 am


Scot and Duane,
Sarah Sumner is someone I’ll look into more…are there other women who are contributing to the theology?
If not, I’m wondering if there is any speculation as to the cause. Some suggest that a lot of emergent folks are “recovering fundamentalists” so the leadership from that farm team is certainly male.
Other thoughts?



report abuse
 

Michael Kruse

posted March 1, 2006 at 12:17 pm


Hi Scott, I continue to be impressed with your grasp of the issues and the gracious way you articulate what you are learning to us. Thanks!
Rick made some comments back in comment “8” that I took as dismissive and yet I think he does raise an issue that is all too quickly dismissed in this conversation from a number of angles: The experience of mainline neo-evangelicals. I will use my own personal testimony as an example.
I was raised in the Church of the Nazarene and did my undergraduate work at a denominational university in the late 1970s. Nazarenes did not join the NAE until 1984 and through most of my childhood I was taught “We are Holiness, not Evangelical.” (We were Evangelcical) Before finishing college in 1980, I had already rejected the holiness distinctives and for a considerable period of time in my early twenties I questioned the whole God thing. (Not unusual for a young adult.)
I majored in sociology. One of my favorite sociologists at the time was Peter Berger and one of my favorite books was Berger and Luckman’s “The Social Construction of Reality.” I went on to graduate school at Kansas State to get a degree in sociology/demographics where I studied with many third world Marxists. (A central focus of the department was community/economic development in developing nations.) I was part of group of about two dozen folks ranging from Catholic, to Baptist, to Mennonite, that met regularly to worship and ask what it meant to be followers of Jesus. I attended Southboro L’Abri during this time. All of this was before 1984. All of the questions about epistemology and post-modernism (though not yet called that in my circles) was in play. In the late 1980s, I attended Eastern University in the late 1980s and earned a MBA in micro economic development. Nearly three quarters of the 200 students were not from the US. Again I was part of a regularly meeting worshiping community in addition to being a part of a traditional church (PCUSA). From mid-1980s to the present, my life has been spent with one foot in mainline Christianity and one foot in communities with no institutional connection.
Fast forward to the late 1990s. An Eastern University buddy of mine here in Kansas City told me of church plant that wanted to start meeting in our neighborhood that focuse on minitry to postmoderns. The struggling Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation (where my wife and I had been working for transformation) had an unoccupied third floor and the new group began meeting there in 1998. I had regular interaction with the church plant pastor and key players over the next few years. To make a long story short, that group became Jacob’s Well, one of the more prominent congregations in the Emergent conversation.
For reasons I won’t get into, the Presbyterian congregation had a leadership crisis. We decided to dissolve and sell to Jacob’s Well. I have had less contact with JW over the last three years but I still drop by on occasion and I am a big supporter of what they do. I have stayed within the PCUSA structure out of a sense of call and have now served two years on the denominational board (my God have mercy on their souls; and mine.) I should also add that I have attended two, one week long, Emergent conversations in the past year.
Now, I give you these “credentials” to let you know out of what context I am writing. There is a grain of truth in what Rick says. I have heard and read very little in the Emergent conversation that is consequentially different from the conversations I have been apart of over my 20-25 years as a conflicted-mainline-PCUSA-neo-Evangelical. I am not alone.
I sense that there are several unhealthy dynamics in play with our interaction. One is jealousy. I think many of us mainline neo-Evangelicals are jealous of the attention being given to Emergent because we have been wrestling with these issues and seemingly made no headway in our contexts. I also think there is another element within mainline denominations that are about co-option. They have a particular political agenda and are working to sway the Emergent crowd into joining them in their agendas (“Until you have reached our enlightened compassionate position on ____ [homosexuality, abortion, economics, fill-in-the blank] you are still Evangelical and not truly Emergent.”)
From the other side of the equation, there is a large vacuum of understanding about Evangelical and neo-Evangelicals in mainline denominations by many Emergent types. I experience curiosity by some and usually respectful engagement. However, there is also a sense that I (and others like me) are novel and at the periphery of the conversation. There is a sense of marginalization. (I will also add as a non-pastor that I sense the “only the seminary trained are qualified to speak to issues of faith and life” bias in both mainline and Emergent circles. I suspect that the absence of women and minority persons in emergent leadership has less to with direct exclusion than a lingering clericalism in a tradtion where pastors are white males.)
Frankly, we don’t need to go to Emergent discussions to be marginalized. We can go to our mainline structures for that privilege. *grin* The desire is to find allies in what is perceived to be a common mission yet the response often (not always) feels like a cold shoulder. I think this is what breeds some of the reverse marginalization from some neo-Evangelical mainliners.
Personally, I like much of what I see among people engaged in the emerging conversation. I see some parallels with developments within segments of mainline Christianity. I have tried to be a bridge between the two worlds in my corner of the world, occasionally offering critique, but I question my effectiveness. I do think something distinctively new is emerging, but it is all quite mysterious to me.



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 1:37 pm


#25 Mark,
Thank you for expanding on my thoughts. I would say there is much more than a “grain” of truth in what I said, but I appreciate your comment. :)
I wasn’t being dismissive of the emergening church contrary to Scott’s take.
I actually LOVE the idea of the emerging church and have considered myself a part of what has now become “emerging” or “post-modern” for the past seven years.
I think this is a great thing, epsecially for the evangelcal church.
I have come to believe that the emerging church movement is mainly an evangelcal church movement and my hopes for the emerging church is that it can move beyond some of the boundaires that will prevent it from truly “emerging”.
Let’s not forget that the “evangelical” church is not the whole church— it’s about 7% of the Body of Christ. It would be arrogant to assume that it has the market on the voice of God and what’s happened in the church.
I appreciate your comments of how your church has wrestled with these ideas for at least your 25 years in association with the PCUSA. It seems new for the evangelical church because it is “new” for the evangelical church they have never addressed these issues until recent years. It almost seems like there is some form of denial about this not being a conversation that has taken place in other parts of the church.
Part of the reason there are few minorities- women, blacks, and others is because tradtionally these folks have NOT had a voice in the “evangelical” church that resides in the suburbs of white america. These are REAL theological issues that the mainlines faced DECADES ago and still do. (Ordiantion of Women, Civil Rights etc.) Do we need “new emerging theology” or has this conversation taken place for years? I hear nothing about feminist theology in the ec. I think there is great scholarship out there that could help the ec “emerge.”
The emergent church movement has much to gain by being in dialogue with mainliners and other parts of the church. It would require those in “leadership” to have sit at the table and not be in control of the “conversation.” Then it would have to LISTEN and not dismiss anything that challeges its core beliefs. It would require humility toward other parts of Christ’s Body and not to be dismissive of those who may have something to contribute to the conversation for the sake of what God may be doing.
As far as being marginalized, why not take a peek from most any inner city ministry in any city in the uSA. I suspect that a large segment of these are “mainline” and/or “black”. These folks have been walking the walk for years. The emerging church could learn a great deal from these folks…
Glide Memorial Church in SF has been doing some amazing things for 40 years.
Anyhow, thanks for listening and thanks for the space.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 5:08 pm


Michael and Rick,
First, thanks for this big idea, but Michael I’m not really sure I know what you are asking or commenting on unless it is this: Emerging folk intimate that they are on to something new and you are saying that you and others like you have been on to this for years.
Second, I don’t think anyone would deny this.
Third, there is plenty of interaction of Emergent and the mainline.
Fourth, it is probably unfair to equate the major Emergent events at the NPC with what the Emerging movement is all about, not because Emergent is an organization and emerging bigger than that, but because this event is sponsored and the sponsors have their own reasons (justifiable, I might add) for who gets a seat at the table.
Fifth, Emergent is not a cash-full organization; if Tony and the others were to organize an event and put at the table the folks they wanted you might see a significant shift. Well, that’s my take. Maybe others have comments that would clarify.



report abuse
 

Michael Kruse

posted March 1, 2006 at 5:51 pm


Hi Rick,
I am expanding to some degree on what you have said but I want to counter a couple of things as well. Please don’t take this these remarks as caustic (Despite my best effort I too often come across that way in this media.)
You wrote:
“I think this is a great thing [Emergent], epsecially for the evangelcal church.
I have come to believe that the emerging church movement is mainly an evangelcal church movement and my hopes for the emerging church is that it can move beyond some of the boundaires that will prevent it from truly “emerging”.”
My take is that not only is Emergent a good thing for the evangelical church, it is a good thing for the mainliners. (BTW, mainline to me means the National Council of Churches crowd like Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA), American Baptists, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian in America, etc. My use does not reference Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God and other similar traditions.) I think there are things people in the emerging conversation have to contribute right now, just the way they are! While you and I have been having the same conversations in our traditions we are still largely in our little boxes. Why shouldn’t Emergent types insist that when we are ready to get out of our mainline (now sideline) cubby holes, then we will have a conversation with you? It is a two way street.
I also want to challenge two of your statements that, in my estimation minimize Evangelicals:
1. Evangelicals are 7%. You would need to qualify that one for me. The Southern Baptist Convention alone would be about 7 or 8% of the population. Try somewhere in the range of 35-45%, depending on how you classify. If we are talking a numbers game, Evangelical denominations have been growing for the last thirty years or more while mainline denominations have collectively lost more than a third of their membership over the same time and the loss is accelerating. For you or I to talk about “move beyond some of the boundaries that will prevent it from truly ‘emerging’” is comical. We can’t even stop hemorrhaging much less stabilize or grow.
2. While we mainliners are long on policy statements and protest movements, look at our demographic make up. Who actually makes up our congregations? Membership in Evangelical congregations is more demographically diverse than in mainline congregations. Also, there is near parity between men and women in Evangelical conversations, while mainline congregations are typically 2/3 to 3/4 female. Mainlines were every bit as much a part of white-flight and suburban sprawl as Evangelicals and while there are some shining examples of urban mainline congregations the demographics consistently show Evangelicals disproportionately engaged in hands on ministry to the poor in the US and abroad.
As a demographer, I can tell you quite emphatically that your characterizations minimize both the size and impact of Evangelicalism.
You wrote:
“The emergent church movement has much to gain by being in dialogue with mainliners and other parts of the church. It would require those in “leadership” to have sit at the table and not be in control of the “conversation.” Then it would have to LISTEN and not dismiss anything that challeges its core beliefs. It would require humility toward other parts of Christ’s Body and not to be dismissive of those who may have something to contribute to the conversation for the sake of what God may be doing.”
Let me rewrite this to illustrate a point:
“The mainliners have much to gain by being in dialogue with emergent church movement and other parts of the church. It would require those in “leadership” to have to sit at the table and not be in control of the “conversation.” Then they would have to LISTEN and not dismiss anything that challenges their core beliefs. It would require humility toward other parts of Christ’s Body and not to be dismissive of those who may have something to contribute to the conversation for the sake of what God may be doing.”
Why not the second? The fact is, I don’t like either of these paragraphs. I sense you are projecting on to the Emergent community the single biggest complaint I have about fellow mainliners which is the ongoing notion that we set the rules and decide who sits at the table (and an ever shrinking table at that.)
My post earlier was intended to suggest that I genuinely want to be in conversation with Emergent communities to see what I might learn and to suggest that others like me might have a unique perspective to bring to conversation that is not being heard but might be helpful. I get the sense you have nothing at all to learn from emergent Evangelicals. I find that troubling.
I hope this has not come across as biting. I appreciate you willingness to engage here.
Peace!



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 5:56 pm


#27
Hi Scott,
I wasn’t suggesting that anyone is “on to something”, I was simply stating that much of what is happening in the evangelical church and the theology it is now embracing is something that has been around for years in the mainline churches.
That wasn’t intended to offend anyone… I was only noticing what is real.
I am not sure how you would define “plenty”. That seems simplistic.
I have met several of the folks Doug Pagitt, Tim Keel,… and have visited on a few occasions with Karen Ward in Seattle and I would agree they are very open and willing to sit with folks. I think karen is wonderful, gifted and extremely hard working as well.
You are right, it isn’t fair to equate te NPC and the emerging church, although some of my older Baptist buddies are now sporting goatees. I am not sure if this is a Rick Warren thing (their generation) or they have been influenced by the emerging dress codes.
You said: “but because this event is sponsored and the sponsors have their own reasons (justifiable, I might add) for who gets a seat at the table.”
That’s scary… so the white dude with a little cash gets to decide who sits at the table and dialogue about what Christ is doing with His Body and that is justifiable?
That’s a way to keep things “fair and balanced.”
Anyhow, thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts here.
It’s probably good for the conversation to have some other voices.
Blessings



report abuse
 

Michael Kruse

posted March 1, 2006 at 6:20 pm


“Emerging folk intimate that they are on to something new and you are saying that you and others like you have been on to this for years.”
That is part of it. A key piece is that we are coming at this from VERY different contexts. Emergent Evangelicals are coming at this largely from from conservative (politically and theologically) foundationalist Christianity. (What I am calling mainline neo-Evangelicals would reject the foundationalist thinking that Emergent folks are also rejecting.) Mainline neo-evangelcials have been living with liberal (politcally and theologically) reltavistic Christianity for decades and are asking how do we come back to the authority of the Word and apply it to life.
In one sense, Emergents seem to be post-conservative while we mainliner neo-evangelicals are post-liberal. What we are both discussing is what comes beyond conservative/liberal but we are coming from almost polar opposite directions.
I get the sense that the radar is up in the Emergent conversation for that which seems foundationalist or modernist. They are exploring many of the options and ideas that some of us mainliners have watched create havoc in the church but seem new to them. When concern is expressed, I think it is assumed that the objection is coming from a modernist frame of mind, like the context they have left, when in fact it is often coming from a frame of mind of being emersed in church context that is awash in postmodernism.
Meanwhile, we mainliners are drawn to the rejection of foundationalism and the interest in the narrative by the Emerging conversation but it gives us the willies when Emergent folks start talking like the prevailing voices in our mainline contexts and using the same reasoning.
In short, I think Emergent Evangelicals and mainline neo-Evangelicals are in very similar place. We both have some important things to learn form each other but we are having a hard time connecting becasue of our contextual reference points.
Does that make any sense?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 6:31 pm


Perfect sense, Michael, and thanks for this.
This whole thing makes sense to me: Michael’s ‘neo-evangelicals’ are earlier forms of the emerging concerns. There are undoubtedly differences, since one is shedding conservative evangelicalism and the other fighting for basic orthodoxy.
Rick, I’m not sure it is fair to stereotype it this way. If WJKP had a conference on pastors, they’d no doubt invite their authors. What I’m trying to say is that the NPC Emergent event does not equal the totality of Emergent or the emerging movement.



report abuse
 

Michael Kruse

posted March 1, 2006 at 6:37 pm


“…one is shedding conservative evangelicalism and the other fighting for basic orthodoxy.”
Now that is why I come to your blog. So you can capture in twelve words what takes me paragraphs to say. *grin*
Peace!



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 6:56 pm


#28 Hi Mike,
I agree with just about everything you said about the mainline churches, however, I was never comparing the two from a perspective of one is better or has it “right”. I would also agree that when it comes to “evangelism” the mainline church needs to take a seat, shut-up and listen to what those in the evangelical church have to say.
You said: “I get the sense you have nothing at all to learn from emergent Evangelicals. I find that troubling.”
That’s just a simple projection on your part and you are wrong.
I will say again, much of the theology and the issues that are taking place in the emerging church is theology that has been taking place in mainline theology for years.
Issues surrounding civil rights, ordination of women, gay people, social justice, etc. are all issues the mainline church has been wrestling with for years– theological issues.
I DO think the emerging church has much to learn from the “mainline” church and vice versa. I suspect much of the theology that has been a tremendous influence on the emerging church and its “leaders” is from the mainline.
I, as well as most of my friends and peers in ministry would consider themselves evangelical, perhaps not with the Big E, such as a Southern Baptist but evangelcal nevertheless.
The fastest growing “churches” in America are the Assemblies of God, Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses…
The Baptists are just as uptight as the mainliners. And yes, Evangelical Christianity accounts for about 7% of the Body of Christ.
I realize that the PCUSA is the fastest dying denomiantion on the planet and you may be filtering some of your perceptions of the mainline through them.
Thanks for your comments and I appreciate you’re taking the time to write. I realize that much is lost via this form of communication, so thanks for your patience.



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 7:12 pm


Dear Scott,
I was thinking about how Michael intepreted my comments.
I appreciate your postings and I apologize if what I write seems to be critical. I guees I am only attempting to express what is happening in my heart and my experience.
So, for what is worth, thanks for letting me comment here and again, sorry if I have seemed critical in a negative way.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 7:39 pm


Rick,
You’re fine — is #34 to me (it says “Scott” and I’m “Scot”). You haven’t been critical; we leave that to Bryan Hodge and Greg McRitchie, who are always after my case.



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 7:53 pm


Yes, it was to Scot (smiling).
Thanks…
God’s peace,
Rick



report abuse
 

Michael Kruse

posted March 1, 2006 at 8:29 pm


“That’s just a simple projection on your part and you are wrong.”
Good to hear. I have 2,000 lumuns projection capability that is often quite effective. *grin*
“I realize that the PCUSA is the fastest dying denomiantion on the planet and you may be filtering some of your perceptions of the mainline through them.”
Actually, I am filtering them through cold hard stats:
The winning mainline member losers from 1960 to 2003 by percentage are (drum roll please):
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): -57%
Presbyterian Church (USA): -42.2%
United Church of Christ: -41.1%
Episcopal Church, USA: -32.5%
United Methodist: -22.5%
Evangelcial Lutheran Church: -6.3%
American Baptist: -6%
Meanwhile:
Assemblies of God: +437%
Southern Baptists: +88%
Roman Catholic: +60%
All this while the US population grew by almost 60%, meaning the Catholics just held even as a percentage.
See the chart I linked at my blog sometime back:
http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/
2005/11/chart_of_mainli.html
As to 7% Evangelical, I suspect you are refering to Barna who distinguishes “Evangelical” and “born again” which are 7% and 40% respectively. He has every right to define these groups for his analysis as he sees fit but “Evangelical” in its more typical connotation more closely resembles what he is calling born again. These are the Evangelcials I am referring to, and I suspect the same is true for most in this converstation.
Also worthy of note, in 2005:
21 million (10%)- Seven Mainline Denoms above
15 million (7%) – Barna’s Evangelicals
The mainlines are all in various degrees of decline while Evangelicals are growing.Anyway, just a little fun with some numbers.
“I DO think the emerging church has much to learn from the “mainline” church and vice versa.”
Cool! Me too.



report abuse
 

rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:48 pm


Michael,
For a more accurate and up to date trend on what is happening in the church you can checkout:
http://www.thearda.com/congregations/index.asp



report abuse
 

Greg Mc

posted March 3, 2006 at 3:24 pm


Scot: Please forgive me. I don’t mean to be always “after your case”. I fact I greatly appreciate your patience and graciousness to me personally, (in spite of some abrasiveness on my part) and the spirit in which you engage those who disagree with you.
Keep your chin up ;)
Greg



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.