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Blog // Thoughts
December 9, 2005

It’s The Theology Dude

The Parish is a blog that I read and enjoy for it’s take on things related to the Emergent Church. It is not at all an “anti” site, but rather one that raises some of the same “fellow-traveller” questons that I find myself asking. Recently, this quote caught my eye, “Brian McLaren said Pagitt predicted […]

The Parish is a blog that I read and enjoy for it’s take on things related to the Emergent Church. It is not at all an “anti” site, but rather one that raises some of the same “fellow-traveller” questons that I find myself asking. Recently, this quote caught my eye,

“Brian McLaren said Pagitt predicted this would be the year of criticism for Emergent. And he was right. What he didn’t expect, I think, is that much of the criticism is richly deserved. Not the D.A. Carson stuff. That’s just fundamentalist ranting and posturing. But for those of us who thought Emergent held promise there is much disappointment. If I cared about Emergent imprints and conferences, I’d have stayed an evangelical. Here’s an idea. Nail down what this thing is, leave it open enough for different faith traditions (except those that exclude women), clearly state the trajectory of this thing (denomination, reform movement, conversation that amounts to nothing, publishing opportunities), and move toward it without panhandling via email. As soon as Emergent is interested in sending me money to do something full-time, I’ll be interested in sending them money to hire a full-time director.”

There was also an equally good quote in the follow-up blogpost,

“Okay. First question… If you’re just this scattered, diverse friendship, why do you need a national director? They’re talking out both sides of their mouths. I have a few friends. To date, we have not hired a director to coordinate our friendship…

So, if it’s a friendship of people and not a denomination or nascent denomination, fire your national director and any other staff you’ve taken on. Friendships don’t need an administrative arm, and they certainly don’t need support staff. C’mon, folks. Just fess up to where you’re headed and quit with the semantics. I’ll admit that Emergent has no hard and fast theology or ecclesiology as of this moment–too many perspectives to narrow them down just yet–but only the most naive person could believe at this point that they aren’t headed that way. They may lose a few “friends” along the way, and they ought to lose at least one, but they are indeed headed that way. It wasn’t the friendship that attracted me to Emergent; it was the theology I was reading.”

I’ve been pondering these quotes for a few days now. To me it is fascinating because my connection with the emerging church is mostly through what I have read (though not exclusively so). The blogs and books resonated with the things I have been trying to do in ministry since the early 90s, they scratched an itch of non-comformity with the mainstream evangelicalism that I was struggling with. Moreover, they reminded me that my intutions about mission and culture in the post-modern context were not wrong, or more importantly that I was not alone in having those kind of intuitions.

My point is that I did not come to a position of interest in and support of the emerging movement through an explicitly emerging congregation or through conferences (or talk fests). Sure, dialogue did play a part, as did attempts at being missional (though I had not heard of the word then. My point is that this was happening in pre-emerging church contexts, it didn’t have a label and didn’t seem to be heading towards any organisation. The emerging label only came into view as I was leaving the UK and spending time here in India relefecting on past experiences. It came through reading abotu the thought and work of others. For me the “conversation” was really more of a “realisation,” it wasn’t about being told something new, but coming to see that what I was doing and thinking was not unique (and being comforted in that). For me it was all about the theology.

Technorati Tags: Emerging Church, Theology and Culture, Missional, Theology

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