Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Emergent?

As a point of curiosity after my theological worldview quiz tied me at both Modern Liberal and Emergent/Postmodern, I decided that now was as good a time as any to visit Emergent's website to see what I could see there. My only brush with Emergent previous to this was when I picked up Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian a few years ago, and found it quite enjoyable. I didn't even know McLaren was involved with whatever this is until maybe 6 months ago. Here's part of their 'story:'

Emergent invites you to explore this story. To come into this conversation with us. Many thoughtful Christians agree: the modern, colonial world is coming undone and a new postmodern, postcolonial world is emerging.

The world is changing politically, from Cold War era to a post-communist era, from a world of conventional and nuclear war to a world of terrorism and genocide, from a colonial world to a post-colonial one (or perhaps to a neo-colonial one).

It is changing philosophically, from modern to postmodern, from a world of absolutes and certainty to a world of questions and searching, of challenge and anxiety, of opportunity and danger.

It is changing socially and economically, as a growing global economy and the rise of the internet and other global media make the world seem smaller and more connected, yet also more fragmented and tense.

It is also changing spiritually as religions of the world cope with new challenges and opportunities … religious and ethnic strife … the loss of confidence in traditional authorities … the shift of Christianity’s
strength from the global north to the global south.


This complex and many-faceted transition calls for innovative Christian leaders from all streams of the Christian faith around the world to collaborate in unprecedented ways. We must imagine and pursue the development of new ways of being followers of Jesus … new ways of doing theology and living biblically, new understandings of mission, new ways of expressing compassion and seeking justice, new kinds of faith communities, new approaches to worship and service, new integrations and conversations and convergences and dreams.


It makes sense that we should constantly be re-imagining what it means to be a disciple in a changing world. As far as I'm concerned, that's a necessary piece. The cautious part of me wants to be careful that we don't sacrifice substance for style, but you've heard me rant about that before. I expected to find a theological statement of some sort on the site, but couldn't find one (I guess that's because Emergent stresses that it is a 'conversation'). However, they do provide a reading list which includes Walter Brueggemann, McLaren, Jurgen Moltmann, Lesslie Newbigin, and...Stanley Hauerwas? Resident Aliens is certainly one response to the new world around us, but it's a more sectarian take on things. We can probably chalk that up to providing a good illustration of Emergent's diversity (if Hauerwas would consciously associate himself with this movement in any way).

So to be a part of this 'conversation' seems to mean that it is to be a part of a theologically diverse community that is seeking one thing: relevance. But people have many different ideas about that. Hence the conversation to begin with.

Where do I stand with this movement? If the reading list that Emergent presents is any indication of the general makeup of this conversation, I wouldn't mind being a part of it at all. In some ways it sounds like what the United Church of Christ wants to be, except less institutional and with no official pronouncements. Yet.

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