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The New Christians

I’ve been generally unhappy with the existing taxonomies of the emerging/-ent church movement that are out there.  The most well known, I suppose, is Ed Stetzer’s triptych:

Relevants: “They are simply trying to explain the message of Christ in a way their generation can understand.”

Reconstructionists: They “think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the
structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox
view of the Gospel and Scripture.”

Revisionists: They “are questioning (and in some cases denying) issues like
the nature of the substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, the
complementarian nature of gender, and the nature of the Gospel itself.”

But Stetzer is no neutral third party.  He’s employed by the Southern Baptist Convention, and in the article in which he unveiled these categories, he made no bones about the fact that the third category (in which some people have placed your intrepid blogger) is the most distasteful to him.


Others have split more hairs than the number on John Franke’s head over emergent vs. emerging vs. missional.  Others cryptically write that their network has a “high view of scripture,” which clearly implies that others in the ECM do not. And there are, I’m sure, other categorizations that I haven’t seen.

(N.B., Scot McKnight’s “Five Streams of the Emerging Church” is not a taxonomy, but instead a list — and a pretty good one — of the influences in the movement.)

But everyone, Scot included, and me included, who has ventured forth a depiction of the nuances in the ECM, has had a theological agenda.  Until now.

Richard Flory and Donald E. Miller (no, not that Don Miller) have published their second book on the sociology of post-Baby Boomer religion.  It’s called, Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation. The rest of the week I’ll be blogging through their four categories of religious response to the postmodern situation.

But first, a summary of their previous book.  Flory and Miller, sociologists of religion at USC, wrote GenX Religion in 2000. Therein, they they conclude that, in contrast to the religion of Baby Boomers, the religion of GenXers is experiential; entrepreneurial; communal; race-, ethnic-, and gender-inclusive; and insistent on “authenticity in how one approaches one’s religious beliefs.”

Between their books, in a move uncommon to sociologists, they created a couple multimedia art installations that they showed in various locales.  In that way, they hoped to promulgate their findings beyond what one can in a university publishing house book.

As I said, more coming this week on their recent book…

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