Why I am Emergent: From a Guy Who Really Doesn’t Care

Tony SigSince the other posts I’m working on will take a lot more time than this little thing I wanted to throw it out there as it has been on my mind; for like a day or something.

As I began to break away from fundamentalism I didn’t really have any books that helped me along.  In a sort of awkward and stumbly way I came to most of my initial positions on basic questions surrounding Evangelicalism by myself.  But on the recommendation of a friend I read Blue Like Jazz.  It was a refreshing book; and I still recommend it to people; but by that time I was already there.  His jokes about beer, swearing pastor’s and weed were funny and not uncomfortable for me.  In time, because everyone else was doing it, I read Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian” and Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” and had a similar experience.

But that’s about it as far as my active involvement with anything “Emergent.”  I’ve never been to a cohort meeting (mostly because of the ungodly time and day for the cohort in Minneapolis – I’m not sure who thought that up) and I don’t call myself “Emerging” or “Emergent.”  Not least because of all the culture wars that have sprung up around it.

But I was watching some panel discussion with Tony Jones, Scot McKnight, Kevin DeYoung, and two other guys I forgot their names, and I was just outright angry at the nonsense DeYoung was spilling.  So I wanted to write this to defend EC from the neo-fundamental-reformed types who keep scouring the Church to destroy whomever they don’t like.

First, here are a couple reasons why I am not Emergent.

–    I don’t want to constantly be talking about ‘who we are.’  I helped plant and fail a church, and for years all we could talk about is who we were and who we wanted to be.  It got so incredibly boring and infuriating talking about it that it was part of the reason I left.  That part of the ‘conversation’ is one that I just don’t care about.

–    I don’t want to have to defend a group which is supposed to be amorphous.  My mom has a book about how the ‘Emerging Church’ is an end times deception of Satan (it’s not hers, somebody gave it to her).  My uncle is convinced that everything Al Molher says about the EC is right, and that I’m some latte’ sipping, St. Paul hating hippie who doesn’t believe in anything.  It’s so funny because it’s so ridiculous.  I, like Tony Jones, do not drink latte’s.  If I drink something with cream it’s a cappuccino, unsweetened, from a reputable coffee shop, but for the most part I drink black coffee, French Pressed thank you very much.  The point being is that I want EC to remain so vague and diverse that I can continue to say “there is no such thing as an emerging church.”  If I start calling myself Emergent I have to deal with my fundamentalist relatives and defend myself which I just don’ care to do.

–    I think that Phylis Tickle’s book went too far – way too far in defining the EC and giving it a theological (hegelian?) historical meta-narrative based on iffy ideas of major things happening every 500 years.  Not only that but the changes are related to big garbage sales?  And then every player in the EC game gushed over in praise of the book and for a second I thought that it was going to define the EC for good.  I’m just too damned “post-modern” (whatever that means) to start to claim history as my vindicator over against current operating paradigms of Christianity.  I do believe that God is working some new and great things in the Church, and that EC can be a part of it; but I prefer to let “reception” among the Churches be the dominating factor in deciding what changes are going to last.

–    I think that sometimes the “post-modern” term is used flippantly without a conscious awareness that “post-modernity” is not the “end of history” nor of theology or epistemology.  Indeed, it seems a legitimate point to me that the “postmoderns” rarely become thoroughgoingly “post”; most of they are a “hyper” modern.  On this I definitely still buy the case put by certain strands of Radical Orthodoxy.

–    Sometimes a couple leaders in the EC are too anti-establishment for my taste.  A rather shortsighted position in my opinion, what about the children, and their children’s children?  Are we going to canonize free church independent deconstructionism as the final destination on the Church train?  Are we really talking about an internet magisterium?  Please.

BUT

There are reasons that I am Emerging and why I defend the Village and plan on being more involved both in EC and in Anglimergent

–    There needs to be a safe space for questions, legitimate doubts, non-confrontational conversation, ambiguity and grace.  By (I believe) the grace of God, the EC has opened that space up.  (I know Mainline, you’re tempted to say you can do that there, with that smug look on your face.  No you cant’.  Everything gets boiled down to heated and dirty exchanges over homosexuality and “inclusivity.”  Battle lines are clearly drawn in the Mainline.  Plus everyone still thinks the old liberal protestant magisterium is relevant.  Theology has moved on guys, get over it)  Until the Church at large is able to understand what it means to be in a somewhat post-denominational age, the neutral space is needed; and will probably forever be needed.

–    Critique of both right and left is needed in the Church, and EC is at its best, able to do this.

–    In my opinion, many attempts by Evangelicals to contribute to the EC are not brave enough to cope with the secular age.  It is still strangely similar to just updating the clothing and relevance.  For my buck that’s just not good enough.  More radical changes are needed and so far most Evangelicals are not willing to move beyond arguing about inerrency and whether church history really goes back 1500 years earlier than they think it does.

–    In my opinion, many attempts by the Mainline to contribute to the EC are not confessional enough.  Until the Cross and Resurrection are returned to the center of even our ‘enlightened’ care for the poor we are kind of not going anywhere.  Let me be clear. 1 – Pentecostals and Nazarene’s were ‘ordaining’ women before you were. 2 – Evangelicals and Catholics were helping the poor, um, since the beginning.  You did not invent social justice, get over yourself. 3 – You are no longer the only ones doing critical study of the Bible and theology.  Time to get off the high-horse and participate in the larger church with humility.

All that to say, I am Emergent. . . sort of

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32 Comments

  1. okay, first of all — really interesting. you’re very well-balanced in your explanation of thoughts, and i think i agree with you on a ton of things, which is fun.

    some comments though (some silly, some legit):

    — what’s wrong with lattes? 🙂

    — while i know this is rare, i actually do think my episcopal church opens up a ground for any sort of theological talk from any sort of person who’s willing to speak up. we recently had two people join our bible study (my friends) who are atheists/agnostics and they love to talk with us about things and bounce things around. there CAN be a space for that even in mainline religion (is the episcopal church mainline? lol), the question is whether or not churches are brave enough to embrace some of God’s infinite mystery and talk about things without trying to figure out whether each and every person alive will go to heaven or hell.

    –blue like jazz and velvet elvis are fun. they lack a lot of the orthodoxy i desire so much now, and donald miller’s church imago dei put in its mission statement that women can’t have leadership positions :(, but BLJ changed my life and broke down a lot of my bitterness i had towards my religious past and helped me to try to learn how to love people in a very active way.

    — one of my problems with the emergent church is simply the idea that we can take denomination out of things. i guess it’s an issue i have with non-denominationalism generally. it isn’t that i don’t think other people should adhere to it, i just can’t bring myself to do it. i think we have to own the Christian past (for better or for worse), study the pros and cons of the reformation and what it’s caused, and take careful notice of the cons of the Christian past and try our hardest to not repeat that history. anyway, that’s just me though.

    — i ❤ derrida. just saying that. maybe not the right theory to apply to theology all the time, because Christianity sort of needs a center (uh, God), but i ❤ his theories of language, etc. dude was brilliant.

    — i don’t understand the fear of post-modernity? just throwing that out there. and that’s not toward you, because you don’t fear it, i am just mentioning that generally. but, i guess i don’t get a lot of the hooplah of fear at all. why are people scared of our nation and calling it “godless”? i believe if God can create this world, God can put an end to it if s/he would like to. but you know what? world’s still turning – so i think everyone needs to CALM DOWN. i also believe God creates order within chaos, so i believe that if there is chaos, there should always be hope and trust in what God has done in the past, and that God will do that again 🙂

    okay, sorry i wrote so much. good post. really got me thinking 🙂

    blessings,
    erin

    Reply

  2. Erin,

    – There are a few things wrong with latte’s, but I’ll let that one slide.

    – I know there are places in the Mainline, and even in Evangelicalism where there is a sort of safe space for inquiry. But by and large there are significant issues that divide us and make conversation especially difficult. The statements were meant more as broad generalizations which are broadly accurate.

    – Yeah, Donald Miller is part of the younger “Reformed” crowd. Though significantly different in how he interacts with other Christians than his buddy, the “swearing pastor,” Mark Driscoll

    – I completely agree on bucking denouncing denominations. I even have a couple posts about it. http://theophiliacs.com/2009/01/07/authority-again/
    http://theophiliacs.com/2009/01/13/authority-clarified/

    – And Derrida is just an example, one of the most obvious when talking about post-modernity. Certainly his theology was significantly stunted, but his hermeneutics and philosophy of texts are really outstanding. I don’t understand the fear either. Most people I know who are afraid of it haven’t read a damn word of post-modern philosophy

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  3. Excellent post, what else do you know about this “younger reformed crowd” you spoke of? Here in New Mexico they call themselves the emergent church, and there is no other group calling themselves the emergent church except for these crypto-Calvinists running around drinking beer and having “open dialogues” in which they somehow always work in TULIP.

    On the other hand, there are groups of evangelicals and former evangelicals who I think fall under the Brian McClaren school of emergent-cy (of course Al Molher might call it an emergency), who are concerned about peace and justice. That’s what I like about the Brian McClaren school–they mix everything great about evangelicalism with everything great about Liberation Theology, with a little bit of literary criticism thrown in for good measure. Not that I’m “emergent” really, I’m just a plain old Anglican.

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    1. James,

      People try to draw lines between “emergent” and “emerging” and now even “missional.” Before the Reformed nazi’s there were plenty of reformed in “emergen,” so I don’t know about the ones down there. What i am specifically referring to are a tightnit group who have in recent years been all over the Christian world declaring who is and who is not a heretic, biblical, biblical enough etc… The core are Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Al Mohler, Wayne Grudem, D A Carson and a few others. So there are plenty of gracious “reformed” types that might even be young, but there is a certain wave which is particularly vitrolic and fundamentalist, anxious to “heresy hunt” every other fellowship. They also gave us the ESV bible translation

      Reply

  4. Great post.

    However, I think we must, with humility, admit that all church is, in a sense, emerging. Even something as seemingly as rock solid and traditional as the Catholic and Anglican church traditions have been in a state of constant change. It’s just been slower is all, so much so that it’s hard to tell until you look back over time, the long stretches, and see it. It’s like how rivers and glaciers slowly change the landscape over long stretches of time.

    Nothing is static, no religion does it now, today, exactly the way it’s always been done. But, of course, this is more akin to a sort of little ‘e’ emerging church.

    To me, then, the current, big ‘E’ Emerging church movement is just pointing out the obvious, and in so doing trying to speed up the process in a few arenas where the mainline has either lost interest or gotten lazy and derivative.

    I suppose I’m not disagreeing with anything you wrote, just putting my own spin on it.

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  5. Tony:

    Thanks for kicking my question down the road! Could some please explain to me what is so brilliant about Lyotard? I’ll even start the answer for you: Lyotard (or Derrida) has contributed to the Christian theological/spiritual project by ______________ (fill in the blank). It’s an honest question, by the way. What little I know about either man’s philosophy doesn’t impress me much.

    I’m glad to see that easy going Anglican spirit rising up to damn fellow believers as “Reformed Nazis.” Isn’t condemning them as “vitriolic and fundamentalist” itself a form of “heresy hunting”?

    George

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  6. George,

    For one, I’ve never been easy going! And if I am trying to be fair I might admit that my language is probably improper. Alright, it was rude. This is what is true though. This “group” has been up and down the church in the last decade and have ripped apart many admirable theologians, translations, denominations, theologies; apparently, somehow they feel that by policing the church, even and perhaps especially outside their borders, they are countering the decline of Christianity in the West; which they seem to attribute to liberalism. Now Evangelicals who support women in the ministry are “evangelical femenists” and N T Wright is an enemy to the Gospel? Come on!

    There is a time for correction, and this group is overdue for it. That’s not to excuse, I accept the rebuke.

    On Lyotard, I am thinking especially of his “The Post-modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge” and with Derrida his “On Grammatology” I don’t necessarily think their work is “brilliant” as in the same way Wittgenstien was brilliant. But, their critique of the nature of language and power, and the cultural and epistemological correctives they provide, I think, are incredibly valuable and correct.

    In large part because of their work we are able to listen to Scripture in new ways, having acknowledged that our readings are sometimes too colored by our tradition and experience. In a way they have by language critique, reinforced much of what negative theology has long been saying about confidence in knowing; be it about scripture or God

    Tony

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  7. Tony:

    Well, it’s not exactly like I’m above strong language. (As evidence, look at just about any exchange I have with Jeremy.) I guess my concern is with knowing who your allies are.

    In that vein, I find it interesting that the “group” you call on the carpet has more in common theologically with Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer (which has a distinctly Reformed soteriology) than do the theologians they critique. They also have more in common with those portions of the Anglican Communion in the Global South than with those portions that exist in the postmodern West, especially on gay marriage and women’s ordination. The former are also the only parts of the Anglican communion that are actually growing. Look, I don’t have a dog in the intra-Anglican fight, but I do think it ironic that you side with the present West against the Cranmerian past and Southern future.

    Liberal Protestantism is a sinking ship. The only remaining choices are liturgical (Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) and free-church Protestant (evangelical, Pentecostal). You don’t have to agree with every jot and tittle of the conservative evangelicals to see that their brothers in Christ. And my guess is that you’ll probably be spending more time in heaven with Driscoll, Mohler, Piper, Grudem, and Carson than, say, Derrida and Lyotard. Of course, I could be completely wrong.

    Whether Derrida and Lyotard have lessons to teach Christian theologians about power and culture–I don’t know. To the extent that I understand deconstructionism, I disagree with it. My guess is, however, that Christian Scripture and tradition have plenty of internal resources for critiquing the hot mess the Western church is in. Do we really learn anything useful in Derrida and Lyotard that wasn’t first taught by the prophets, Jesus, and–I can’t believe I’m saying this–even John Howard Yoder?

    George

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  8. George,

    You’re using Yoder?! Lord help us 🙂

    A couple things. I do not have a beef with Reformed theology per-se. Though I have much more affinity towards Presbyterian Reformed theology than Pipers Baptist Reformed stuff. I know that they have solid theology and preach the Gospel. My beef with them is the manner in which they have chosen to interact with other Christians. Really that’s it. They can be Calvinists for all I care (though Calvin was different especially than Baptist Calvinism)

    So I’m not siding against them and the Global South Anglicans. Somethings to note on Anglicanism is, yes, Cranmer, the 1559 BCP, and even Hooker, blessed be his name, were “Reformed.” But Lutheranism had just as big if not a bigger influence on the BCP than Continental Reformed theology. Except for a couple stray Articles in the 39, a strict TULIP would be hard to find in the celebration of the services.

    Even so, The Episcopal Church, from an early era was much more Armenian, and eventually we are now mostly Armenian Catholics (not too unlike high church Methodists). Overseas it is still not so simple as being Reformed. When the missionary societies formed in the UK and America, the groups ordered themselves according to piety. So even in Africa, there are plenty of Anglo-catholic provinces. I know specifically that Malowi is very high-church. As is the Southern Cone of South America and Mexico.

    In India and Pakistan, the church of North and South India, and the Church of Pakistan are one of the only true success stories of the Ecumenical movement. They were formed by the joining of several Protestant churches and are incredibly diverse.

    Australia has the super lowest church types in all Anlicanism as well as a high-church section.

    So Anglicanism is pretty diverse, even in the “Global South” I would probably like Malowi, they use incense and dance in the isles; sounds like my kinda service.

    As far as value in post-modern thinkers. As long as we have people in the Church using “natural law” to determine universal truths, then we will need them 🙂

    Tony

    p.s. – I am not so hard on some types of liberal protestantism. I have ceased to differentiate between liberal “errors” and conservative “errors.” Example – I know some AG’ers that think we turn into angels when we die. That’s just bad resurrection doctrine right there. And I know some self-identifying Episcopalians that believe in some kind of re-incarnation. That is also bad resurrection doctrine. But somehow the conservative is more justified; I don’t know why

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  9. Tony:

    In re: “natural law.” LOL.

    More seriously, I can never figure out whether Theophiliacs disbelieve in universal truths or just disbelieve in universal truths arrived at via natural law reasoning. Care to comment?

    One of the things I have always admired about the Church of England is that it somehow made room for both George Whitefield and John Wesley.

    I’ll defer to you on the variety of churches within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

    Regarding the difference between “liberal” and “conservative” errors, my take is that all errors are not equal. For one thing, I wouldn’t focus on the private opinions of this mainliner or that AGer as much as the public doctrines and declarations of their respective churches. Individuals are wont to say all sorts of idiotic things. (I testify based on personal experience.) When churches say all sorts of idiotic things, that’s when we should take notice.

    Also, there are errors that take place within the family and outside the family. A mainline church that denies that the Trinity or blesses homosexual unions is definitely outside the family on the first issue and arguably outside on the second, at least from the standpoint of the traditional interpretation of Scripture. Young-earth creationism and dispensational premillennialism are errant, but they’re errors within the family. At least that’s my take. A live question within Pentecostalism/charismaticdom is whether Word of Faith errors are in-family or out-family errors. A case could be made either way; my only take is that they’re heretical.

    George

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  10. George,

    Yeah, they made room for John Wesley, as they ignored and marginalized him!

    I agree with what you’re saying on errors in and out of the family. And I believe – of course I believe! – that there are individuals, sadly, even a bishop or two have crossed the line into heresy; and if the ideals of Spong & co. get integrated into the beliefs of the Church then I’ll have to leave. But the younger Episcopalians I know are much more interested in orthodoxy, at least in part because of the “modernist” claims of liberal protestantism. I am aware of the precarious place of TEC right now; but I believe that God has called or allowed me to Anglicanism, so that until it is completely gone and the Communion has made its mind, I’m stayin here. But there are “liberals” (the more I use these words the less meaning they retain) who are orthodox, I don’t suppose that everything I believe, provided of course I knew everything I believe, will in the end be true. That’s the nature of sin and imperfect faith. We walk by imperfect faith and not by sight, so there will ALWAYS be error in churches.

    But that is always the precarious nature of the faithful. Just how far grace goes and when it is exhausted is much more gray than some say it is. “Word of Faith” people being a great example. When is it time to kick them out? People are mixed. I’m with you though.

    I guess sometime I could write a post about Natural Law. I can’t speak for all the Theophiliacs, but Natural Law for me is a secular world where somehow it is believed that by the excersize of reason (uh…whose reason?) humanity can know the mind of God for the world…apart from revelation? So because there are reason(S) and not a reaso(n), I don’t see how it works. Perhaps you could tell me how it is consistent with a belief in Revelation? I’m assuming you think it is.

    Tony

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  11. Tony:

    It dawned on me that perhaps we’re not using conservative and liberal in precisely the same senses. For me, in a church context, the terms are primarily theological and ethical in reference. In other words, I believe we ought to “conserve” long-established theological beliefs and ethical convictions unless, as Luther might add, Scripture and reason can convince me otherwise. I’m not using the term in an ecclesiastical or political sense. In other words, I don’t really care whether we conserve aposotolic succession or presbyterian government or congregational voting since these are means to ends. If they accomplish the end, keep ’em. If not, junk ’em. Moreoever, I’m not using the terms in a political sense. In an American context, I’m a political context, although I prefer to think of myself as a liberal since I would like to see the realm for individual action and mediating structures enlarged while the realm of government shrunk. That makes me a liberal in a Continental sense. I’m classically liberal, I suppose–or libertarianish. With the exceptions of abortion and gay marriage, I don’t think the church has a dog in most political fights and that there is plenty of room for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. to worship together.

    A thought occured to me last night that might explain some things. The thought is this: Academic theologians are constantly looking for new topics to explore and publish about. This gives them a neophile edge that is missing from much pastoral work. Not sure where to go with this thought, but it occured to me, so I’m sharing it.

    One of the things that is attractive about Yoder’s ecclesiology is that he addresses the practices that are necessary for discerning where grace is to be applied and where lines are to be drawn. The essay, if I remember correctly, is called “Binding and Loosing,” based on Matthew 18.

    I’ll have to think a bit more about natural law. My feeling is that you seem to think in terms of either/or while I’m thinking in terms of both/and. In other words, you seem to think there’s a choice to be made between revelation and reason, while I think they’re conjoined. Consequently, I’m a bit more impressed by natural-law and natural-theology type arguments than you are. Good examples are Lewis’s argument from morality in Mere Christianity and his argument against naturalism in Miracles. Perhaps two images would help. I think of natural law/natural theology as controlled burns in which intellectual impedimenta are burned off for better health in the theological forest, without, of course, resulting in a raging forest fire. Or perhaps we should think of them as ground-leveling operations before the foundation of a house is laid. In an apologetic context, it is often helpful to deal with people’s meta-objections to Christianity as part of your strategy of explaining Christianity to them. The tasks are complementary, not contradictory.

    George

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  12. I frankly don’t have a clue on the “emergent” church. Would it be safe to say that it grow out as a reaction to christian fundementalist in the USA?

    It sounds like anonymous ecclesiology;>)Yet also seems to place some emphasis on social justice that is lacking in some denominations. Perhaps would it be accurate to say that the emergent church movement is seeking to recalim some of the good works aspect of the Gospel that was rejected by the reformers because of the perceived over emphasis of it by the Catholic church?

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  13. Quickbeam,

    Tony is better read on the subject of the emerging church, so he may have to correct my answer, but in my understanding (having been thinking about this recently) there are at least two things going on with the emergent church. The first and most important (to me) is what you described: a reclamation of the good works (social justice) aspect of the Gospel which were lost at the Reformation. The second I think is also a desire to explore liturgical spirituality without having to submit oneself to ecclesiastical authority. The question is can you have liturgical spirituality without apostolic succession? I hate to speak for you, but I have a feeling that you would agree with me and say no.

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  14. James:

    Good works were not lost at the Reformation. Look at the poverty relief efforts of the Puritans and Pietists, for example. What was lost at the Reformation was an emphasis on good works that was not properly ordered to faith.

    I think you’ve insightfully described the other aspect of the emergent church: liturgy without authority. I think you can have liturgy without apostolic succession (look at Lutherans, for example), but it’s hard to maintain liturgy without an authority reinforcing the value of liturgy. Absent that authority, experimenting with candles, incense, lectio divina, spiritual mazes, and whatnot is just a fad driven by the individual’s need to connect with some vague spirituality. Once those fads no longer help the connection, they’ll be tossed overboard.

    Perhaps a less critical way to say this is that liturgy reflects theology which in turn reflects authority. Catholics, Orthodox, and high-church Protestants (some Lutherans, some Anglicans) have a liturgical practice that reflects their theology that reflects their episcopal leadership. Emergent churches don’t have a theology that underwrites liturgy and generally reject the notion of ecclesiastical authority. Consequently, in my opinion, they have an unsustainable liturgical practice.

    G

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  15. James

    I’m with George. I’m reading the collected works of George Herbert, an Anglican priest just after the Reformation and he is very concerned with care for the poor. Besides the Puritans mentioned I would point to Methodists. They were crazy awesome in that regard.

    That being said, I do think that those affiliated in the EC have integrated justice to a place of importance in its theology that was missing in some popular Evangelical circles which really often only thought of it as an “imitation” of Jesus instead of something which necessarily flows out of the Resurrection.

    And certainly authority is very important. Without denying that I think another point to make is that the hodgepodge approach to liturgy misses out on what the liturgy is and isn’t. I will perhaps do some posts on liturgy sometime as it is something which interests me.

    Quickbeam,

    It would be very difficult to say what the “Emerging Church” is. Lets just say it is a renewal “movement” which primarily began in low church Evangelicalism but which has moved on to include the Mainline churches (Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, etc…) and even, Roman Catholics (an Emergent/Catholic conference just took place). It is incredibly ecumenical.

    It emphasizes the whole scope of Christian history as authoritative (a sort of renewal of place to Tradition) instead of focusing exclusively on Reformation theology – their all reading the Fathers – and it emphasizes the history of doctrine, pointing out that theology is not static. It also reads often through the eyes of the post-modernists; but not all get exactly what that means and only some push for a thoroughly deconstructive (in the french sense) Christianity.

    But, correlatively, there has been a tendency by some to be anti-authoritarian and espouse a rather radical baptist independent church ecclessiology. But the movement is too diverse to say it “is or isn’t this or that.”

    Despite what I perceive to be some faults in the theology of some thinkers, I believe there are some credible strengths, especially the grassroots ecumenism which emphasizes common life in Christ over doctrinal uniformity. At least as a counter-balance to what sometimes in an overly academic conversation between church hierarchies.

    Not sure if that is at all clear, let me know if you still have questions.

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  16. Thank you all for your responses.

    I’d be very concerned with the emergent/Catholic conference. Granted I just googled it but the leader on the Catholic side, isn’t representative of Catholicism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rohr

    He’s a classic “spirit of Vat II” type which has done a lot of harm in my church. I don’t have any issue with dialog on liturgy, but it will take some time to attempt to absorb what liturgy without authority would look like and my gut reaction is like George could be fad driven.

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  17. James,

    “The question is can you have liturgical spirituality without apostolic succession? I hate to speak for you, but I have a feeling that you would agree with me and say no.”

    For me liturgy is faith acted out in worship a public service to God. I think one could have liturgy without apostolic succession, but I don’t believe one can have sacramentality without it (except Baptism & Marriage). But then many communions don’t admit to more then two sacraments anyway so that may not be an issue for them.

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  18. George, Tony,

    Your responses were both good critiques of my statements. It is clear to me that I over-generalized. When writing, I was thinking specifically of Martin Luther’s desire to cut out the book of James from the canon, because in his mind it contradicted Romans 4 and 5, and the whole Sola Fide thing. But, as much as I’d like to, I guess I can’t blame the Reformation for all the evils of the modern Evangelical church. 🙂 On further reflection, the rise of modernism, the excesses of early 20th century liberal theology, and the ridiculous reaction to it in the form fundamentalism have a great deal to do with the evangelical church’s sinful lack of concern for social justice in the past couple of decades (though this problem is slowly being solved). Which is my angry little way of saying that its a complex issue that I oversimplified by blaming it all on those pesky Reformers.

    Quickbeam,

    You too make a good point when you distinguish between Sacrament and Liturgy. Your post in conjunction with my Confirmation classes have lead me to begin thinking about the relationship of the two. I am not convinced that you can have one without the other, but I am newb when it comes to sacramental theology.

    As to Richard Rohr, I am really sad I missed his conference on the emerging church as it happened like two miles from my house. I don’t know that I agree on every theological point with Fr. Rohr, but his faith is bearing clear fruit in my community, so I am not willing to write him off as a complete heretic (not that you are necessarily calling him one either).

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  19. Dang James I was attempting to leave the response neutral and not get into Council of Trent issue on the mass;>)

    “I am not convinced that you can have one without the other, but I am newb when it comes to sacramental theology.”

    Well I was trying to give the benifit of the doubt to those that are attempting to do so. Historically I would suggest a reading or rereading of St. Ignatius of Antioch Epistle to the Smyrnaeans. He links the bishop, the presbytery, the deacons and the laity with the Eucharist.

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope B16)back in 2002 wrote a good piece on it as well.
    THE ECCLESIOLOGY OF VATICAN II http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfeccv2.htm

    From an Orthodox perspective Alexander Schmemann
    http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/theologyandeucharist.html

    Reply

  20. Hullo from “Down Under” in Melbourne Australia. Reading your blog as a former Fundamentalist who belonged to the Churches of Christ (aka as the Disciples of Christ in the USA), and is now an Anglican I am encouraged. I am glad in many ways, that I don’t have to live in the US with its polarised political life and divided church life. I would agree with nine of your 10 statements about what the church must do, with the exception of the one working with Muslims. Like the US, we have a growing radical movement here in Australia of Muslims, esp from those raised here. Like you, I like some aspects of the Emerging Church, but I think it will pass, but without much trace. See my latest blog post under “The Contemplative Crisis”. Yours in Christ, Rob

    Reply

  21. I am hitting this post late, but thought I’d throw my two cents in anyways. I appreciate your approach to the subject in general, and I appreciate you not majoring on the minor points, and not minoring on the major points.

    I think that the central issue in any “movement” should be Christ. Christology is truly the crux of any worldview or theological subscription, and I think that this is the EC main pitfall. Those who whole heartedly call themselves Emergent simply refuse to answer crucial questions about who Christ is and what the Bible says about any number of issues. I think the EC have good things to offer in way of methodology and cultural relevance, but again, I think Jesus is the only example we need. Jesus embraced culture and at the same time changed it into the likeness of the Father’s Kingdom. Jesus loved traditions but also totally turned the tables and revolutionized ministry and spiritual community.

    I just realized I could probably ramble for a long time about all this, and I have to go. Maybe I will return. I am not sure that I am trying to say anything other than the fact that the EC has a few good ideas, but at the end of the day they really aren’t new ideas. Everything that the “EC” wants and preaches about in regards to loving people is answered in Christ. Where they get off is their stance on things that are doctrinally non-negotiable. A movement that refuses to answer certain questions will eventually fall apart anyway. I think the EC thing is basically a dead mini-movement anyways, so I suppose there is no point in continuing the conversation.

    Blessings

    Reply

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