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I’ve heard it, I’ve read it, and I’ve seen it happen: it is a characteristic of many in the emerging movement. But it’s got to be understood for what it is: I call it “inclusion reaction.” This inelegant expression tells a story.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard emerging Christians come to the defense of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestant Liberalism. This “inclusion,” however, is not often granted so instinctively to traditional evangelicals. Why? Because the latter group is the one the emerging movement is reacting to. Hence, my suggestion — and I wonder what you think — of what I’m calling “inclusion reaction.”
[Just in case you are wondering, this post was in my mind for sometime, and has very little to do with the Up/rooted post below it; though there were subtle indications of this theme at work Monday night — even on my part.]
Read Brian McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy; it’s a splendid example of what I am saying. He even admits he’s not going to be completely fair with traditional evangelicalism.
Here’s my definition of a characteristic: There is an instinct among emerging Christians to defend those who were “othered” by evangelicals and an instinct to “other” evangelicals, even though many emerging Christians truly are moderate or progressive evangelicals (and nervous about that term).
The irony of it all sometimes amuses me: most of us in the emerging movement are more than committed to including women in traditional “ministerial roles” though we may also not even like such categories any more. But, here we are at times standing up for the ecclesiology of Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, when (if you haven’t observed) they have not made any genuine progress toward untying traditional knots that have excluded women from traditional ministerial roles.
Yet another one: most of us are dead serious about democratizing power and authority and decentralizing and empowering the excluded or empowering the “laity,” but (again) we find ourselves defending those high, traditional, and clearly hierarchical authority structures at times.
Why do we do this? The answer is simple and two-fold: we want to include those whom we have “othered” so we are especially sensitive to critique of Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. And, we want to develop an ecclesiology that gets “beyond” the old divisions and that means we have to work hard at inclusion — especially making room at the table for those whom we have othered.
I will post in the near future (not sure when) about the mainline denominations, and I will probably sort through Diana Butler Bass’s book to do that.
But, for now, what do you think? Is it fair to characterize this trend in emerging as “inclusion reaction”?

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