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I’d like to suggest in this blog one of the underlying themes to Solomon’s Porch, and perhaps to the Emergent movement ecclesiology in many of its shapes and forms, and this first theme (there’ll be about ten) can be seen in these three terms:
Reaction to perceived weaknesses and problems and shortcomings. I read Doug Pagitt and Solomon Porch to be intentionally being post-evangelical rather than anti-evangelical. (But there are always “anti”s whenever there are “post”s, but Doug Pagitt makes it painfully clear that they know they are building on what has come before.) Because it is “post” evangelical, there is the claim that it is “new.” It does not seem to me that “response” is a strong enough term for the Emergent churches. But neither do I don’t think DA Carson’s category for Brian McLaren, “angry young man syndrome,” fits what I see in the Emergent churches — though angry might be part of some churches (when isn’t it?).
Reduction of the task of the local church to its basics as a result of Scripture study and theological awareness and perceived guidance from the Spirit both from individuals and through the community. (There will undoubtedly be some disagreement among various leaders and churches on what is “basic” etc.)
Rework what the church is to do and to look like in light of those basics. And to do this reworking courageously and with enough flexibility to quit some things and to carry forward with other things. But, in all this, there is an obvious intentionality about lots of elements of Solomon’s Porch, down to calling their time together on Sunday evening a “gathering” rather than a “service.” (There is a mistake here when they speak of “service” as the church being serviced, since the term “service” more properly refers to our service to God — but Doug Pagitt knows that what was supposed to be “to God” has for many become “for us.”)
For Doug Pagitt and Solomon’s Porch, that basic (or at least one of them) is to live the life of Jesus today or, as it is also put, to live in harmony with God holistically and always to do this as a community.
My next blog will be on “coherence as community.”