re: Emergent-phobia

Mark has an interesting conversation posted over at his blog. One thing I’m very thankful for is that my church is very open to trying new expressions of worship. The thing I find fascinating is that one of the issues was over candles. My church will begin lighting Advent candles this Sunday, as will many other churches that are the furthest thing from “emerging” that you could imagine. Now, my church will also do an Advent prayer station service at some point, so I guess we’re on that slippery slope.

In all seriousness though, I think that this may be driving home Art’s point. McLaren has written some amazing things. I understand, to a great extent, where he is coming from. But, as Art says, he’s a turn off to some (many?) in Evangelicalism™. I resonate with many of Brian’s criticisms, but sometimes I think the way he says things makes it more difficult for people like the youth worker in Mark’s post to do ancient-future kind of stuff. Of course, part of this problem is that as much as Art might be at least partially correct that Brian caricatures parts of Evangelicalism™, I think an equal (if not larger) part of the problem is that those within conservative circles caricature the entire emerging movement as somehow lead by Brian McLaren. As such they’re able to say, “See, McLaren is a horrible liberal! Therefore anything that falls under the emerging worship label is liberal! Therefore candles used in youth ministry are of the devil!” I realize that I might be using a little hyperbole there, but not much.

I long for the day when the church can love one another, and agree to disagree about many things. Sadly, I doubt that day will come before the Eschaton. Nevertheless, to those of us in the emerging/missional/ancient-future/post-evangelical sphere I say this: humility in all things. A reminder I need to hear myself as much as anyone else.

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2 thoughts on “re: Emergent-phobia

  1. I have a problem sometimes with new expressions of worship (e.g. “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs by FFH), but I’m not sure how either your or Mark’s example is specifically Emergent. I think that most of what Evangelicalism™ is calling Emergent is anything different from what they know. It’s become the new boogie man.

  2. Calvin, I definitely agree with your assessment. I wrote this on the 13th of September in a post entitled “Emerging Hypocrisy” that, I think, offers the balance you are talking about when it comes to those within the conservative circles caricaturing McLaren, et. al.:

    Evangelicalism/fundamentalism is not what McLaren is saying it is. What he is describing is, perhaps, the negative experience he has had with a pocket of evangelicalism/fundamentalism. Some of the things he says are true and the church should take it to heart, but many of the other things he says are mistaken at best and deceptive at worst.
    On the flip side, the emerging movement is not what Carson, MacArthur, et. al. are saying it is. What they are describing is a negative theological issue that they have seen in a pocket of the emerging movement. Some of the things they say about the emerging movement are true and the emerging movement should take those to heart, but many of the other things they are saying are mistaken at best and deceptive at worst.
    If we are going to get our collective panties in a bunch about being misread and being misunderstood, we should be willing to read others fairly and charitably. Both sides need to stop this “emerging hypocrisy” of complaining that the other side is not representing us correctly and then turning around and returning the favor by not representing them correctly. The way to get through the seemingly growing impasse between the emerging movement and fundamentalism/evangelicalism is to treat one another and one another’s work with honesty and integrity. This does not mean always agreeing, but there are ways to disagree that are fair and honest.
    I believe that if this is done, the church will be strengthened and God will be glorified.

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