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Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday we were at Westminster Theological Seminary where, at the initiative of the student body, a conference was hosted about the emerging movement. First of all, Kris and I want to express publicly our gratitude to WTS and especially to our hosts, Anthony (Tony) and Jessica Stiff.
Tony is a promising leader in the church; his perception was remarkable to me, and he and Jessica looked after Kris and me so well we just want to say thanks on this blog.
I haven’t been in an environment like WTS for a long time, so (admittedly) I was a bit nervous when I began my first paper on the emerging movement (my paper is posted here at The Foolish Sage in pdf format). Thanks to Mark for posting this; I have no clue on how to turn something into pdf and then posting such a thing on the blog. The paper reads a little less passionately than I delivered it. A funny experience for me: I thought the second paragraph of my paper was pretty funny; no one laughed. Everything I feared about WTS’s attitude toward emerging entered my mind and I hunkered down for a while and it took me half the paper to come back to reality.
The paper I wrote some time ago, called “Future or Fad?,” has proved helpful for some who are inquiring into the emerging movement. This new paper extends, modifies, and develops that paper more than a year later.
I welcome your comments and observations on the paper.
Friday morning Michael Horton gave a paper about the emerging movement, and I was a bit uncomfortable (but I got over it quickly) when he was disagreeing with John Franke, who was sitting in the 3rd row — but they are friends and this kind of conversation has been going on between them for decades. If you want to see how Christians can respond to one another, get ahold of John’s paper — because he said, “Yes, Mike, I screwed up in not doing my homework as carefully as I might have.” Then John gave a great paper on the theology of mission and the mission of theology.
We had a break — a lunch — and then I gave a paper on atonement (which I won’t publish on the blog because it is from my book coming out from Abingdon next summer called A Community called Atonement). After that, I didn’t get to hear Dan McCartney’s paper on atonement because I did a radio interview with Michael Horton — and we had a very good conversation.
Friday night we had a time with students from both Biblical Theological Seminary and WTS, and they had questions and comments about emerging.
I think it is only honest to say that a few faculty, who have written against emerging/emergent, protested the event by not attending the sessions — at least so I was told (by a half dozen students). Sadly, I think — why? Because they are the ones with whom I would have most especially enjoyed conversation, and the ones who perhaps could have learned from the discussions.
Saturday morning I gave another interview, this one on The Real Mary to Publisher’s Weekly Online, and then we had a nice coffee at Chestnut Hill Coffee Company. Jessica then picked us up, we went back to WTS. Two more papers — one by John Leonard (a missiologist) and the other by Walter Henegar. Both of these papers were very good.
I’ve been asked if the papers will be published, and I doubt it. Why? Emerging is changing fast enough that if it took a year for these papers to appear, they would be out of date.
Personal reflections of this experience will begin tomorrow.

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