Stephen Shields has a lucid and useful post on Mark Driscoll‘s use of Ed Stetzer’s categories of emerging. That set of categories was relevants, reconstructionists, and revisionists — those who are ministering to, those who are ministering with, and those who are ministering as postmodernists. Driscoll adds a category.
There is no reason to get into who’s right and who’s wrong, for (as postmodernity has taught all of us, whether we are pomo or not) such categories are imposed from without in order to explain and other categories might explain other features. Their degree of correspondence is shaped in part by our intent in using them. I do think, personally, that these categories from Stetzer and Driscoll are of some use for description — of a theological or missional sort, but they do not always correspond on the ground to what is happening.
But, Driscoll has added “Reformed” to the 3Rs of Stetzer. Driscoll is himself a Reformed emerging missionary. A reformissionary.
Here’s my take: his new category of Reformed Emerging is not a different kind of emerging but instead cuts across two of the already clarified groups — the reformed group is the theological standpoint of some who are “relevants” and some who are “reconstuctionists.” I take it that the revisionists really can’t be Reformed without some serious finger-crossing.
Overall, though, I find the same problem here that is often the case by those who want to define emerging and Emergent Village: to define emerging or emergent by a theological orientation fails to engage emerging and Emergent Village where it really is. These groups are not primarily a theological orientation but an ecclesiological vision and praxis, and a theology that emerges from that praxis. Now it just might be the case that Reformed reconstructionists and relevants are, in fact, at the ground level genuine theological orientations rather than missionally-shaped communities.
Someone tell me because I’m not sure, but it seems Driscoll would distinguish between “missionary” (which is mostly evangelistic) and “missional.” I noticed his use of the term “missionary” as he began to define the Reformed emerging group.
Defining this movement is a hobby-horse for some, but once we’ve got it figured out for ourselves, it is time to move on to praxis and to get post-definitional.
And when we get there we will also become post-categorical. That is what Jesus prayed for in John 17, and it is what I pray for. I hope you do, too. It’s called “deep ecclesiology.”