I often read Scot McKnight’s blog. As I was going about my normal blog reading today, I came across an excellent post. However, I think that Scot has it slightly wrong in this post. I can’t really speak to the fears of “liberals.” However, when it comes to Evangelicals and the Emerging, I think I have a slightly different idea than what Scot suggests for their fears.
Evangelicals, on the other hand, are most fearful of change to the core of what is perceived as central to their faith.
I’d say that, although Evangelicals are certainly fearful of change, they are most fearful of either A) failing to legislate their agenda or B) sinning. Both of these were mentioned in the comments over on JesusCreed.org, but I thought they were worth bringing up here. I’d probably lean more towards “fearing to sin,” but that probably has a great deal to do with my background. I’ve often seen people fearful of confessing their sin for fear of being beaten down and shunned by the community. Its pretty sad, but it is there. But I think Evangelicals also see it as their mission to reach the world for Jesus by getting out there and making their voices heard in government. Hence the first option. Again, I should throw out there that my experience with Evangelicalism hasn’t always been positive – so I could be biased. Scot chose of fear that could be seen as either good or bad, whereas the ones I’ve chosen are probably more readily seen as vices.
So, what is the emerging movement afraid of? This might surprise you, but I think I’ve got this one nailed. What will surprise you is that it is not theology — Liberal or Evangelical. The emerging movement, no matter how many times I say this it doesn’t seem to convince many, is not a movement rooted in a set of doctrines. It is theological, but not the way either Liberalism or Evangelicalism are. It’s biggest fear is centralization of power and authority.
I don’t know about anyone else, but Scot has convinced me that the emerging movement isn’t about a set of doctrines. If anything it is a way of reimagining Ecclesiology. However, I think that saying its biggest fear is centralization of power and authority is a bit of a misnomer. I agree with John L. (comment #25 on JesusCreed.org). The emerging movement really doesn’t want to be labeled anything, so a centralized power structure is certainly a fear of theirs. But many of those who would consider themselves emerging are part of denominations that have a centralized power structure. They may not like it, but they bear it – I’m not sure they fear it. I think they fear becoming it. In other words they fear becoming a denomination instead of a movement; a power structure instead of a conversation; a corporation instead of a community. As John L. pointed out, its about connecting people – but not placing people over others. In many ways it works much like the blogosphere, and those who are part of the conversation want it to remain that way.
I look forward to watching this discussion progress on Scot’s blog. There are already some very insightful comments over there. I can’t wait for more.