Two Years After Emerging

If you have been reading me for any length of time, you will remember that, back when I was in my last year of college, I did a series of posts and wrote a paper on the Emerging Church.  In particular, I focused on environmentalism as being one of the only similarities among the various flavors of emergence (you’ll have to highlight it to read it as it just so happens to be entirely in black, which is the same color as my background for some reason).  At that point, I pretty much dropped all talk of the Emerging Church from my blog.  I continued to read the books and blogs, but talking about it only garnered criticism and my wife and I being banned from a Calvinist message board for my refusal to stop studying the group.

I found a lot within the conversation that I identified with and a lot that gave me deep feelings of discomfort and concern.  One of the prominent authors at the time was prone to making comments with the deliberate intention of being vague and provocative, and the leaders in the movement seemed prone to do the same, to the detriment of the Gospel message.  You had your good men and women, people who found themselves lumped into the movement by no action or decision of their own, but, as a whole, the conversation seemed led by true theological liberals of the not-good sort.

This is the point at which I quit reading most of what had to be said.  It all seemed directed toward the condemnation of Conservatives in every form and flavor.  And I am not the only one who noticed this.  One poster on an emergent message board flat out asked, “Is there anybody left here who believes the Bible in an orthodox understanding?”

Two years later, as I reflect on my studies of the movement and on what has transpired within the church in that time, I think there is a lot of truth to that question for the entire movement.  The poster was referring to the message boards, but, as I said, I think the question has a broader application within the movement as a whole.  And BelovedSpear pointed out another, and I think more poignant issue: The Holy Spirit’s seeming lack of influence within the movement.

In my two years since studying this flavor of Christianity, I have grown to more appreciate the Holy Spirit than ever before.  In these two years, we as a family have dealt with many personal crises that have left us, in some ways, unable to attend regular gatherings of the faithful: from job loss to losing an apartment to a dying grandmother who we are charged with the care of to a drug-addicted family member to just simply feeling put-off by the church as a whole.  In many and various ways, the Holy Spirit has been my only sense of comfort and my only guide in the truth of God’s Word.

The Scriptures have also become more and more relevant to my spiritual life.  Interestingly enough, these two things are the very two things that the Emerging Church, as a whole, threw out with the bathwater when they threw out traditional Christianity in the early 2000’s.  This isn’t to say that a lot of truth wasn’t unearthed in this time, or that their lack of Scripture and Spiritual influence didn’t yield some much-needed criticism and shedding of some harmful practices and ideas.  But the lack of these two very important aspects to the Christian faith has led, I believe, to their overall demise.

Without a rediscovering of the Scriptures and the very important place of the Holy Spirit, the movement will disappear and we will be left with even more irrelevant flavors of Christianity.  And God knows we don’t need any more of that.

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One thought on “Two Years After Emerging

  1. Recognizing that this isn’t a very reformed perspective, I think the movement of God’s Spirit is absolutely central. Foundational. Meaning, it is ultimately more vital to our faith than text or tradition. It is what transforms the chicken scratches of human language into the Word of our Creator. It is what transforms organizations and movements into the Body of Christ.

    Then again, I seem to recall Calvin saying much the same thing, so perhaps I’m not as heretical as I’d like to imagine. On that front, anyway. 😉

    What has frustrated me about emergence is that absence. No one is “naming and claiming” it as a Spirit-based movement. Not McLaren. Not any of the other emergenty types. When I’ve gone to emergent gatherings, it’s been…well…spiritually unsatisfying. I really like the people. But the tone and character of the conversations has lacked that sense of clear *vocation.* There is little sense of a people aware of being called by God into something new.

    And that troubles me.

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