Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Emerging Reconciliation

Some folks, most of them with noble intentions, are vocal and vehement critics of Emergent. Their targets have especially been Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones. What should the leaders of Emergent do about their critics?
Well, they could strike back; or they could ignore their critics. I’ve always thought how one responds to criticism is a good indicator of character and intention. No one gets it right every time, but patterns do emerge. Time tells. Listening and learning lead both to standing firm or changing in light of the discoveries of better truths.
I’ll tell what you what Emergent leaders did last week, and I was glad to hear about it. Tony and Doug went out of their way to invite some of their most vocal opponents to dinner. Tony invited me, but there were so many at the table, so much noise in the room, and a group of friends wanted to chat with me about a more pressing issue in their own emerging group that I had to excuse myself. We slipped away for more than an hour of great conversation.
What happened in the meeting of Emergent and its critics is that each of these folks met one another (for the first time in some cases), and they saw one another in flesh and blood, and they heard one another’s voices and tones and emphases, and they probably got to liking one another enough that they moved toward reconciliation on some issues (not on all, to be sure). In short, when we see one another as Eikons we have a better chance of treating one another with respect and love.
We’ll perhaps hear in the blogworld what took place, but this sort of meeting might just lead to some reconciliation — which would be good for all of us.

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Duane Young

posted February 28, 2006 at 7:02 am

Gracious people are winsome people. And winsome people win some! It is so refreshing to hear of followers of The Winsome One being so gracious and winsome. Makes me wish I was there. Compare the political dialogue we are subjected to these days. Too often that becomes the model.
Your post reminds me of a great example of doing it right. For anyone that wants to see true winsomeness and graciousness I would recommend getting tapes or CDs from of Ravi Zacharious doing Q and A at Veritas Forums. His treatment of hostile callers/interrogators is jaw dropping.
Thanks for your leadership and modeling of grace in action.

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Scot McKnight

posted February 28, 2006 at 8:09 am

Did you see that Ravi’s autobiography is now out with Zondervan? I had a copy but just had to give it to my colleague, Boaz Johnson, who is an associate of Ravi’s.

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Duane Young

posted February 28, 2006 at 8:21 am

I did not know that. Thanks for the tip.

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posted February 28, 2006 at 8:37 am

I’m not that old–I’m 49–but I’m old enough to have seen some water go under the bridge. Every few years a new “movment” within Christianity starts. Some develop into denominations. Some develop into groups of denominations. Just just impact a lot of people in different denominations. Some are worthy while others are not so worthy.
The positive side of all these “new” movments is that each reflects that fact that human beings are still “groping for God.”
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
(Acts 17:24-28 NASB)
The negative side of these movements is that each thinks that it has found something that the previous 2000 years have either overlooked or long forgotten, and each envisions itself as being the change that will be THE change that makes the difference.
Of course THE change happened 2000 years ago when God became man and sacrificed Himself as a demonstration of God’s love and as an appeal to man to be reconciled to God and His purpose for humankind, and that change continues to happen in each life that embraces God’s grace and seeks Christ-likeness.
I applaud the Emergent Movement’s groping for God. I critique its idea that Emergent Theology has been hidden for centuries and is only now coming to the light, or that Emergent Theology is somehow the end all that we have been waiting for.
I personally dislike the “informality” of it, and the superiorty it seems to breed in some (but not all of its aherents), but at the same time I love its welcoming message because it is the old, old message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Andrew Jackson

posted February 28, 2006 at 10:13 am

Yes, biblical reconciliation does not require full agreement on issues and approaches.
And, I also agree, that face-to-face interaction often melts misconceptions and mentally conceived distortions of others as true followers of Christ.
Eating together often leads to appreciating and enjoying one-another.

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posted February 28, 2006 at 10:46 am

The Upward Way Press » Blog Archive » Reconciliation

[…] Scot McKnight tells of a possible Emerging Reconciliation of Emergent and some of its most loud critics. It sounds as if something good may be happening. […]

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posted February 28, 2006 at 1:24 pm

One thng that has always truly impressed me is Brian McLaren’s ability and willingness to speak with such grace and humility to those who disagree with him. I could learn a thing or two from him and apparently Doug and Tony as well.
Thanks for the reminder.

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posted February 28, 2006 at 8:18 pm

What is wrong with criticism? Throughout university, work, and life in general, I have learnt to accept alot criticsm and learn from it. Some criticism I disregard, but some I learn from.
I have been a Christian for 5 years only, and in this time I have noticed that some Christians, especially those in any sort of leadership in their church can not take even the slightest bit of criticism. They get so worked up by and bent out of shape by it and feel that they are being personally attacked.
I have also heard emergents be extremely critical of mega-churches and other evangelical streams. The emergents I have heard have painted all mega-churches with the same broad brush, which as you all know should definately not be the case.
Criticism is not a bad thing. I believe it is essential for growth and maturity in many facets.
That being said, I agree that once we meet eachother face to face, and see eachother in flesh and blood, and realise that we are all deeply loved by God and are trying to serve God the best way we know how – even though we may disagree with methodologies, these differences will just seem less important.

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Nuno Barreto

posted March 1, 2006 at 8:09 am

Really good news. And a huge example on how to deal with criticism.

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posted March 1, 2006 at 12:13 pm

Nothing like breaking bread and washing each others feet.
Jesus never asked us to defend ourselves or him for that matter. Love takes care of all of that – without him we’re nothing.
A new ecclesiology without love/him is nothing.
An old tradition without love/him is nothing.
When the first Emergent “defense (a word to critics) document” surfaced I printed it off and read it ten times circling how many times “us and we” kind of words were in there and how many times any member of the Godhead were mentioned and then posted my results in the Emergent Village discussion.
Whenever we speak about ourselves more than him we are in trouble with him.

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Rohit Jonathan Pandit

posted July 3, 2006 at 6:26 am

Please pray for my family to increase in spiritually strong & to work for gospel as envangelist. To make our faith strong that devil cannot make any weakness.

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Rohit Jonathan Pandit

posted July 3, 2006 at 6:27 am

Please pray for my family that we strength in christ jesus.

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