Days 2 and 3 brought quite a few hours of working at EIS and running into some fun folks like AKMA, Matthew, Jake, Justin, Myles and Sarah. I was able to catch up with two good friends from Princeton (Kellen & Dan) and Sarah and I ran into a lot of people last night at the Princeton Seminary Party.
Yesterday, I finally made it to a session, “What is Emergent?” Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle and Pete Rollins (pictured above) led a lively and packed discussion about Emergent and its role in the church and in theological discourse. The day before, a friend asked me why Emergent still needs to have seminars entitled “What is Emergent?” He said, “You know, all you guys have to do is put out a Press Release and then you can move on!” To some degree, I agree. Since I’ve been involved in this conversation for around 3.5 years, it does start to get a little ‘old’ to go to sessions that seem to rehash much of the same things…but as was clear yesterday, there are still plenty people who are either just getting wind of Emergent or still have many basic questions to ask about it.
At any rate, Phyllis Tickle gave a wonderful introduction to Emergent and its place within the history of Christianity. She talked about how every 500 years, the church has gone through a dramatic revolution and reformation (1517: Protestant Reformation; 1054: East/West Split; 500…something about popes…I was never great with history). She believes that Emergent is the new movement of reformation for this 500 year period. She also is so bold to say that Brian McLaren is to this new reformation what Martin Luther was to the Protestant Reformation. Bold claim. Of course, Brian is so humble he just shakes his head.
Brian talked about different issues within the Emergent conversation (pragmatic, philosophical, theological, missiological, liturgical and issues of justice, globalization and postcolonialism). He also spoke of the global south and how he has traveled to over 20 different countries of the world and met people who are asking the same questions that Emergent is. I find this encouraging, specifically when people are, rightfully so, still asking the question of Emergent, “Where is your diversity?” Someone asked that question yesterday, because the room was primarily white (and primarily male). But Brian makes a good point. He said that the 95% of the evangelical church’s leaders are men. This is a horrible statistic, and makes me glad that I’m part of a denomination that encourages and supports women in ministry. However, Brian followed that statistic with another, that approximately 85% of the Mainline church’s leaders are men. Not much better.
Pete Rollins is brilliant. His book, “How (Not) to Speak of God” really does present the theological and philosophical foundation for emergent, and to hear him in person, is quite the experience. Simply put, he’s brilliant.
Below, you can sift through my rough notes from the session, and if you’re really interested, you can download some of the presentation and Q&A in MP3 format here:
Every 500 years the church has a big rummage sale.
1517, 1054, 500 (popes, etc.)
Could this be the next?
Each time, what was left has become a viable expression of Xnity, none of them ceased to visit.
We are now in one of those 500 yrs.
Faraday & Darwin brought about the beg. of this reformation, our current time of upheaval. In these times, one simple question exists: where is the authority? Sola scriptura won’t hold water now…so where do we find authority now?
What is emerging is not a new form of Protestantism, it’s a new form of Xnity. It’s emerging in the 2/3 world, and in the Western world.
When we speak of Emergent Xnity, it’s not Protestant, Oriental, Orthodox, etc., it’s different. It must deal with where is authority?
Also, we don’t know what it means to be human. Cogito ergo sum doesn’t hold up in light of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence. And we don’t know what we think about a theology of religion.
We’ve developed a society/Xnity that consists of people separated into four parts:
There is also a diminishing of denominational-loyalty – part of that means that we throw away that which doesn’t access God for us.
There is a new form of Xnity and we aren’t exactly sure what it is.
Emergents are characterized as being:
*concerned about ritual
*huge sense about social justice/environment
*deeply embedded in wherever they are
One of the great questions is whether or not the Emerging church will integrate with the reconciling churches (indigenous forms of church that exist in areas that were not colonized).
Questions that led to Emergent:
*How do we reach these people? (pragmatic)
*Theological: What really is the story, what is the gospel?
*Issues of justice/globalization/failure of the nation-state to address emerging global problems?
Desire to link this conversation with the global south.
Postmodern & postcolonial are the same conversation – postmodern is a conversation among the former colonizers, and postcolonialism is a conversation among the ones who were colonized.
IKON – transformance art. Can we create a space where God can give God?
Modernism — reason & wonder.
God is received, but never conceived.
A more phenomenological faith.
I absolutely believe in intervention, but sometimes believe in whether there is a God.
Believe – behave – belong?
No. We start with belonging. I’m not going to reason you into the faith community. Just give it a go. See how it plays out.
We speak with wounded words of a wounded Christ. We speak with words of ikons…not idols. When we hold our theology not as a signpost that points, and not an idol that holds, but as an icon where we gaze upon the invisible and the invisible gazes upon us.
Anselm has a non-ontological argument. God is a being of whom none greater can be conceived. See Jean Luc Marion’s article on Anselm.
Where is the role of clergy in the emerging church?
Networks can co-exist with hierarchies.
The pastoral contract – there is a change coming in this unwritten contract.