Friday, January 08, 2010

Death to the Emerging Church! Long Live the Emerged Church!

Yes, I am trying to kill the Emerging Church!


They stabbed it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.” (if you don't know that reference, be ashamed and then google)

I don't know. In some ways I don't care, since this latest kerfuffle seems to be about semantics and making sure people are valued.

Yesterday’s little post highlighted the “controversy” over the death of the Emerging Church. Andrew Jones seemed to be trying to communicate that the Emerging Church might be dead, because it was now part of the mainstream (at least that is what I was hearing). Tony Jones seemed to disagree because he is on the receiving end of some of the attacks from the mainstream. In her response to both streams, Danielle Shroyer tells us that the revolution is no longer revolutionary (but not fully mainstream). All excellent points in my opinion. But, what do I know? I am no longer a pastor, not a theologian and not really part of any groupings at this time. I am just a guy that likes to tell people what music to listen to, what movies to see and make fun of everything.

if you wonder why I seem to take delight in making fun of things I am involved in, even tangentially, look back to my postings from earlier this year on Not Taking Yourself Seriously. I think we are all narcissistic and ridiculous people that believe ridiculous things about ourselves and the world around us. These ridiculous things need to be ridiculed occasionally.

However, you may wonder what I feel about regarding the death of the Emerging Church (why my opinion matters is beyond me, but I will share it narcissistically). Well, I want the Emerging Church to die… semantically. In fact, the very term communicates an ending and a death of its present condition (you have to emerge into something else or you cease to exist). I hate to be simplistic, but a caterpillar is dying (in its present form), from the second it begins life because it is on its way to becoming something else. That’s how I feel about the emerging church. It is on its way to being an emerged church, so it must die (semantically).

I sit in between all these worlds wanting there to be no emerging church in its present manifestation. I don't want people to think my views are heterodox or controversial (in fact, so many of the things I believe that used to scare people are becoming "normal"). It is my hope that we are on our way to such mainstream acceptance of the ideals of the emerging church (in all its forms) that the term no longer means anything. It is just the church... and it has many forms. And that is okay, because there is no real “threat” to the Gospel, Jesus or God, if those things are big enough to handle ALL of our ridiculous ideas from all sides.

In my little world, Tony’s ideas are part of the conversation and not radical (in any definition of that world). Andrew’s ideas are part of the bigger normal also, as are Brian McLaren's, Mark Driscoll’s, Julie Clawson’s, Jim Belcher’s, Soong-Chan Rah’s, Ed Stetzer’, Patrol Magazine’s, Relevant’s, the Ecclesia Network’s, the Origins Project’s, Emergent Village's, Acts 29’s and others. In my view of the world, none of them are threats to the other, or Christianity.*

They just ARE part of the bigger picture of Christianity, emerging and hopefully emerged, even if I find some of the ideas wrong, simplistic, bothersome, lacking in proper progressiveness or too far out there.** I want a church in which Agonistic Christians that love who they think Jesus may be are part of the same bigger tent that readers of the King James only and snake handlers are part of. Listen, you may think I am just some wishy-washy Liberal, but I have my beliefs about who God and Jesus are, how to interpret the Bible and what happens when we die. I can argue them and I THINK I am right, much of the time. But, my view that I am a ridiculous narcissist, wrong more often than I am right (and you are too), colors all of this and allows me to live in a very big tent.

So, to kill the Emerging Church, just let them in. Don't worry, they won't destroy anything big enough to follow. Then a new Emerging Church can come along and tell us what we are doing wrong and how we need to change and emerge.

Death to the Emerging Church (semantically)! Long Live an Emerged Church (semantically)!

and let our kids create a new emerging church in 20 years, after we have screwed this one up:)

*of course in my view of the world: The Cardinals were robbed of their rightful Super Bowl win last year, global warming exists, there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, people should not die or go broke because they sick, Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan are pretty decent guys, a person’s sexuality doesn’t really matter to anyone else, all political correctness sucks, Jesus and his teachings are worth following, and people are valued, whether unborn, male, female, straight, gay, rich, poor, dying, young, old, American, Afghani, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Pagan. So take all of this with a grain of salt.

** this can be a stretch for me, especially with my views on the atheological consumerism of the seeker church, the political dangers of dispensational premillenialism and other apocalyptic beliefs, the evils of health and wealth and other streams of Christianity I just don't like or find damaging.


Bob Carltom said...

first off - an Eagles reference. way way nice.

for me, the money quote is:

We are programmed to receive

2nd - I loved the first post, love this one even more.

the power of this part makes me feel so much hope:
kill the Emerging Church, just let them in. Don't worry, they won't destroy anything big enough to follow. Then a new Emerging Church can come along and tell us what we are doing wrong and how we need to change and emerge.

Michael said...

one disagreement.

just because you are all done, doesn't mean everyone else is.

the "emerging church" tent has been a place to come in out of the criticism and sit with people who do not think you are crazy.

i personally don't care what you call that function, but that is a beautiful function, and i would be sorry to see it die.

DJ Word said...

I get what you are saying. I am hoping for a church that is emerged enough that those still emerging are accepted in the church in such a way that they can find "emergence" in the system they live in. Their new (emerging) beliefs are accepted and not seen as freakish.

Sure, that is a pipe dream, but that is why I want it to be emerged into a place where people can emerge safely because the system is ready for them.

Plus, I have seen enough the last 15 years that I believe there is possibility. the conversation has moved so far in such a short time frame that I am hopeful for complete emergence... which will then screw up people and they will have to emerge out of.

Does that make sense?

Michael said...

Accepting people with different beliefs has not been a strong suit of many parts of the church. I'm happy to be hopeful along with you about the chance that this is changing.

On Porpoise said...

How do we measure what God's Spirit is up to? Who could be bold enough to posit such an equation that might capture the depth and breadth of this sacred mystery?

Cynicism is cyclical --- you always end up where you began --- albeit on a rung of the whirlpool that is lower than where you started out.

Penitent said...

Did you read the news?
"Emerging Church, pronounced dead Thursday, missing from grave"

DJ Word said...

Thanks Penitent. I enjoyed the read. hope its getting you some much deserved traffic.

on Porpoise- regarding your comment, my only response is 3 letters...


Anonymous said...

I was with you until you mentioned the Cardinals.

Seriously, great post.