This past week several emerging/emergent bloggers have written about why they are dropping the label emerging. You can read Andrew Jones' post here, Dan Kimball's here, and another sort of summary blog here. I haven't seen any responses from anyone explicitly associated with Emergent Village.
The gist of these posts seems to go like this: Emerging/Emergent conversations started 5-10 years ago as a way to rediscover what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus in our current 21st century context, especially with an emphasis on reaching non-Christians with the gospel. However, over the past few years, the name and label "emerging" has taken on new forms, and has become much more of a marketing brand that is most clearly associated with Emergent Village and corresponding authors like Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. The movement has gained recognition and has experienced a good amount of criticism (which even we in this small cohort are familiar with). Now when a person is identified as emerging, or the term is even thrown out, it is necessary to defend theological positions, explain who you are with and who you disagree with, and exhaustively locate oneself on the evangelical spectrum. So, writers/authors/bloggers/speakers are saying, "Look, this isn't worth all the hassle. And I don't agree with Emergent Village on a lot of stuff anyway. So I am no longer emerging/emergent. I am 'missional' or a part of the 'church being reformed' or simply finding new ways to faithfully follow God in my context. But I/we/our church is NOT Emergent."
**Insert deep sigh here**
I have so many mixed reactions to these posts that I've been reading over the week. On the one hand, I empathize and can understand the need to make this move and identify (or un-identify?) oneself for the sake of the ministry you feel is important. On the other hand (and this is what I really feel), I thought we were done with all this label bullshit? I thought as a post-modern Christian I was post-denominational, meaning I don't care what you call yourself, if you celebrate the Eucharist or communion, if you were baptized as an infant or an adult, or if you hold the penal substitutionary view of atonement above all others. I thought emerging/emergent was all about recognizing and even celebrating our differences.
I get the sense from these writers that they have deep differences with guys like McLaren and Jones, and thus feel the need to separate theologically. That is really sad to me. I'm also a little concerned about what this means for Emergent Village and those associated. Does this relegate these others even further out on the orthodoxy spectrum, teetering somewhere between truth and heresy? (Again, I thought we were getting beyond such words....have none of these guys read Peter Rollins?)
Alright - as always, I could say/write a lot more about all this, but perhaps you have thoughts. I would especially like to hear from those outside of our cohort, if you happen to be reading this. What are your reactions? Is mine an overreaction? I mean, it is all just a name after all right? It won't really change what we do in our cohort or what I believe about Jesus.
Nevertheless, it is an example of why I am emergent - to get past all this "label" crap.