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.