3.25.2008

Is it time to lay "emergent" to rest?

Brett McCraken is a grad student in UCLA's Cinema and Media studies program.  I found his blog after reading several outstanding articles he's written over at RELEVANT and Christianity Today.  To me his reviews of current music, books, and movies (three of my favorite things) are always well-thought out and enjoyable to read.
Yesterday, his post concerned the emergent church.  Do you feel some of his critiques are merited?  Should we let go of the term?  I weighed in on the comments, but clearly his readership leans toward a, dare I say, more Driscollian point of view.  :)
Here's the link.  

3 comments:

Jesse said...

Great article Greg - thanks for the link.

I think the criticisms are well-placed. The discourse about emergent/emerging (what is it? what isn't it? why i am, why i'm not, etc.) is quickly nauseating. However, what I appreciate is the refreshingly new wave of thinking, living and being a follower of Christ. I agree with your comment that the very fact that there is so much discussion about emergent gives credence to theory that there is "something bigger going on."

I've mentioned this before, but one of the biggest challenges is when people have a conception of what "emergent" is or mean that is very distorted. I think some of the publishing (while certainly is to make money for the publishers and the authors) will help people in the long run to better understand the movement and the leading thinkers.

One of my favorite phrases that I've learned from the emerging church (actually from the PCUSA) is Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda - the church reformed, always reforming. God's Spirit is moving among us in active, dynamic ways, and his body is always growing and adapting. That's why it is so exciting to be a follower of Christ!

Nick Johnson said...

I agree that the term emergent has quite a few problems, but until something better is suggested, we're pretty much stuck with it. It's funny, we actually have discussion very much like this in the musicology world over labels. We debate for hours about "should we call it the classical period..." or things like that. The main difference we don't talk about God, but the arguements are very similar.

I think that what we are doing has to be called something. If people didn't know what to google, then they would never find us, we would never have met, and we would not be participating in a world-wide discussion. While the term emergent certainly has it's problems and misunderstandings, I feel that the good has so far outweighed the bad.

One part of the article that I would disagree with is that this time of change is no different than others. The more I look at history the more I am convinced we are at a very pivotal time. The very way that we share and consume information is radically changing, and people are participating in conversations at a worldwide level like never before.

Jesse said...

Nick -

Your point about "what to google" is so true - I had never thought of it that way. We can't escape labels, and even if they aren't fully accurate or always helpful, they are necessary for many reasons.

Your comment on the "change of the times" is interesting. I agree fully that we are in a unique phase of Christianity. Some people point to a sort of "rule of 500" - - it was b/w 350-500 that the Roman Catholic Church came into power; around 1000-1100 that the Orthodox Church split (Great Schism) and then around 1500-1600 that the Reformation happened. So now, we are in the 2000-2100 and people expect another great change.

I think the point of the article was that change and reformation is always occurring in the church at some level, and I would fully agree. Churches, pastors, bishops and popes are always examining the times, reacting to the culture, adopting and fitting the theology to be more appropriate (and hopefully better). The question is whether or not what is happening now with the so-called emergent/emerging church is something different or greater - or is this just a new phase of the ever-evolving Christian faith?

Really, we can't know right now, and in some ways it is insignificant. What's most important is to still ask and answer the question, "How can we more appropriately live what we believe to be true?"